Song Notes: Unhappy Girl

Unhappy Girl
Left all alone
Playin' solitaire
Playin' warden to your soul
You are locked in a prison of
....your own devise
And you can't believe what it does to me
To see you cryin'

Unhappy girl
Tear your web away
Saw thru all your bars
Melt your cell today
You are caught in a prison of
....your own devise

Unhappy girl
Fly fast away
Don't miss your chance
To swim in mystery
You are dying in a prison of
....your own devise

Unhappy Girl was one of the band's older tunes which made it to tape the second time around. In the Doors' pre-demo days, before Ray had discovered the Fender Rhodes piano bass, Unhappy Girl was one of the tunes the band used to audition bass players. It was usually played as a straightforward, soulful love song.

When they recorded it for Strange Days however, it became a triumph of studio atmospherics, partly due to Robby's doleful bottleneck parts, but even more so from Ray's backward piano part. Ray told Pete Fornatale in a 1981 Musician interview: "I wrote the whole song out backwards. They played the song, the tape came back to me in the earphones backwards. But the beat was there. I started on the right-hand side of the chart rather than the left-hand side and read backward as the song progressed."

Once Ray was done and the master tape was played forward again, the piano alone had an eerie quality, though now the part fitted perfectly with the song.

Producer Paul Rothchild felt such techniques had a chance of putting Strange Days right up there with Sgt Pepper as a monumental mix of studio craft and artistic vision. They had great expectations for the album. "It was filled with ingenuity, creativity, great songs, great playing, fabulous singing. But the record died on us. Oh, it went platinum immediately, but it never really 'conquered' like it should have. It never conquered like the first one did or the next one would.' Unhappy Girl was the flipside of the People Are Strange single and, despite the ingenuity that went into it and some fabulous singing by Jim, it became something of a throwaway song - basically it took the message of Break On Through and softened it into a gentle lover's encouragement."

Listening to the song today, Bill Siddons says that he can't help but think the lyrics reflected the situation Morrison found himself in back in 1967. "He eventually abandoned music because he became a victim of what he created. Suddenly he didn't have the freedom that he went into music to find. Like the person he describes in Unhappy Girl, he became a prisoner of his own devise. He devised a prison by being so outrageous that he couldn't live up to, nor did he desire to live up to the expectations of others to top himself."

Copyright 2003 by The Doors, Chuck Crisafulli/

The Genesis of Jim Morrison's Poetry