In 2010, after playing his first show in Paris, Tech N9ne headed straight for Père Lachaise Cemetery. The Missouri rapper sat down beside the gravesite of Doors frontman Jim Morrison, cracked open a bottle of Jack Daniels and poured a glass for the late singer and himself. "I told Jim, 'Thank you so much for the inspiration,'" he recalls. "It saved my life."
Tech N9ne has been a Doors fan for years – when he launched his independent record label in 1999, he called it Strange Music in tribute to two Doors classics, "People Are Strange" and "Strange Days." "If I didn't listen to their music and their fusion of sounds, I probably would've never called [my label] Strange Music," he says. "I have Jim Morrison to thank for that. Who would've fuckin' thunk it years later that I would work with his homies?"
Tech N9ne is talking about "Strange 2013" – a new version of "Strange Days," created in collaboration with the surviving members of the Doors for his upcoming studio album, Something Else (due out July 30th). The track came together through producer Farid "Fredwreck" Nassar, who got to know the band after working with them on Snoop Dogg's 2004 cover of the Doors' "Riders on the Storm." "I told [Strange Music], I know the Doors, so if you really want to do a song with the Doors and you have the budget for it, then maybe I can call them," Fredwreck explains. "I figured, let's get the real guys to do it."
Last year, the surviving band members – guitarist Robby Krieger, drummer John Densmore and organist Ray Manzarek – gathered in L.A.'s Village Recorders studio to record the track. Tech N9ne had initially suggested reworking "People Are Strange," but Krieger had another idea: "I said, 'Why not do "Strange Days"?'" recalls the guitarist. "That has more of a driving beat." They cut the new version in under a week, using instruments including tablas, guitars, sitars and the original Gibson/Kalamazoo organ that Manzarek had played with the Doors.
Manzarek died on May 20th of this year, leaving "Strange 2013" as one of his final recordings. Tech N9ne still remembers turning to the keyboardist over a glass of Pinot Grigio during last year's sessions and asking him about one of Morrison's lyrics in the original recording. "At the end of 'Strange Days,' Jim Morrison says, 'As we run from the day, to a strange night of stone,'" says the rapper. "I asked Ray, 'What was Jim talking about when he said that?' And Ray turns to me and says, 'I don't know, man – you'll have to ask him.'"