Love “Forever Changes”

Forever Changes

I think everybody must remember where they were the first time they heard Alone Again Or. For me it was a high school summer, driving my car, just marveling at the beautiful guitar line and mariachi rhythms, and the building drama of the chorus that goes so close to the top and never over. Any sucker riding shotgun over the next two months would be subjected to this powerhouse lead-off track from Love’s third record.

It’s important to not let Alone Again Or overshadow the rest of this classic disc. The masterful songs on Forever Changes manage to accept and transcend the sound of the era. In a Los Angeles scene where the Byrds were absent heroes and the Doors would shortly become immensely more popular, Love was and will remain the coolest, baddest group from this time and place.

Forever Changes is one of those albums where every moment of sound is as thoughtful as the last. The tunes are led with an acoustic rock combo and string orchestra with horns. Lyrically, the album represents both the light and dark sides of the 60s; these were reportedly Arthur Lee’s last words, as he believed he was soon going to die, and in reality his band was falling apart.

Tracks like Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale drive with a southern California sound forged by Love, part folk-psych and nearly part tropicalia. Lee’s voice is authoritative but welcoming on A House Is Not A Motel and lean electric guitar leads provide quintessential psych sounds. The poetry can get dark sometimes, in The Red Telephone with its suicidal hint, but it remains somewhat down-to-earth when “The snot has caked against my pants…” opens Live And Let Live.

I have read all manner of scandal from contemporaries of Love, including one wondering why the band hadn’t chosen Hate for their band name. Their story, revolving around the genius of Arthur Lee won’t equal the story told on this record; while not a concept album or rock opera, it gives an eerie glow of some tale, or lesson never learned. A beautiful, haunting suite.

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“Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale”

:D CD Reissue | 2008 | Rhino | Collectors Edition | buy from amazon ]
:) Vinyl | Elektra | search ebay ]

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  • Great post! I think I probably first heard Love in the 1980s as a result of curiosity arising from the connection between Bryan MacLean (of Love) and his kid sister Maria McKee (the force behind 1980’s L.A. roots band Lone Justice). In addition to Alone Again Or, MacLean also wrote a good country song for Lone Justice called “Don’t Toss Us Away.” I think I’m going to have to do a Lone Justice post over at STWOF now. By the way, Alone Again Or is probably one of my top 25 songs of all time. Not sure, since I never made such a list.

  • stardust

    Lovely post! Forever Changes is such a great album. It makes me fell in love with the 60s. Too bad that nowadays it doesn’t gets the popularity it deserves. Here in Sweden not many people have heard their music.
    Well, the first time I heard Love was last year, actually. It clearly depends on me being born 25 years after Forever Changes, but better late than never. Alone Again Or wasn’t the song that got me into Love, it was A House is not A Motel. Fantastic lyrics!
    Then I would like to recommend you the movie Bottle Rocket, the one made by Wes Anderson. Alone Agin Or features in it, and it’s such a great scene.

    Your blog is a lovely way to get into the “old” music! Thank you!

  • Honestly, I first heard “Alone Again Or” as a Calexico cover.
    This is a fantastically creative album.

  • Stranger

    I remember not knowing what to make of F.C. the first time I heard it. It was almost too much to digest in one listen. After a few more spins, it slowly started to crawl under my skin (like so many of the greatest records do…), and I soon found myself listening to it nonstop (sometimes up to 3 times a day) for months. Dark and enigmatic, yet strangely uplifting, this album only gets better and better with each listen.

  • Lawrence

    Between Clark and Hilldale is my fave tune on this, my fave album of all time. Thanks.

    Back in Portland, where I am from originally, I found a really scratched up copy of Da Capo at a thrift store about 1984. I really dug it. Then I found a rather clean copy of the first album, and I thought “this is it, I love this album”. And I had read all the hype surrounding Forever Changes, even in the mid 80’s. But I thought there was no way anything by Love could’ve topped the coolness of their first record. I let this opinion slip out one day to my friend Gene and he looked at me with the most serious face and said “Dude, you have to listen to Forever Changes, nothing compares.”
    I did and he was right. I think this album was channeled from another dimension. It is the album for the ages. It knows no time, it knows all time.

  • Mikel-Chas.

    The world was sent a special man to us to share his talent and genious with way to short a time but the time Arthur was here he gave so many billions of us and still is giving us all and some yet to discover Mr.Lee…I know I am a better person because of his music and the words he left to us all.I will never forget the first time I heard the song :You set the scene” for Forever Changes.I bought the album the same day.Thank you Rhino for doing what you have come to do best Re-release the best of the best from the 60’s to the present.LOVE is one that had to be found and shared with the world once more.I loved the music flutes trumphets and everything you would not expect to find in rock and roll.But he was so much more then that,so much more.His music is timeless and seems to even get better with age.I just listened to a tape I made of the LOVE groupe and It is as fresh as it was just recorded yesterday.The other side “Eyes of the beacon street Union” did not fair as well but I have forever Changes as the best album made ahead of my 2nd best,”Sgt.Pepper.”
    To end I will say Thank you God for giving us Arthur Lee for the short time you did,thank you ever so much. Arthur made my life a lot better every day. God Bless you I will be coming to you shortly my old friend.
    Thank you for the music now God has you back home..

    LOVE Mikel-Chas.Skinner

  • partikal

    Rare as it is, visual documentation of Love in 1968 can still be found:

  • John Einarson

    Forever Changes remains one of the greatest recorded achievements of the last 50 years. I was honoured to write the biography of Arthur and Love, “Forever Changes: Arthur Lee & the Book of Love” (Backbeat Books) and to learn the insider details of those remarkable sessions as well as the whole story of Arthur and the group.

  • Norman

    “..a lesson not learned”. That’s real poetry, my man. Back in this album’s times we hippies used to rate you by a lot of things but your record collection marked you. When you saw 13th Floor Elevators – or Love – you knew you were in a hip place. FC is an album like no other, and sadly marked the first peak in Arthur Lee and Bryan McLean’s careers. Would that heroin, rivalry or whatever it was could have abstained for a couple more years…but it was still a triumph. And “a lesson not learned”. Well put

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