And for every happy hello, there will be good-bye
On Friday, I read on Soundbites that Arthur Lee of Love had died of Leukemia. I became a fan of Love after hearing their version of Burt Bacharach's Little Red Book in a record store. At the time, I was in full White Stripes froth and that song was so obviously a blueprint for The Stripes overall sound (guitars as percussion and general stomp) and their own eventual Bacharach cover* that I had to investigate further and see what else they'd made. I bought Forever Changes, Lee's paranoid psychedelic nightmare of a record and was awestruck. That album still sounds contemporary today, thanks to its twitchy landscape turns and general air of world-out-there terror. Like some kind of hippie Cassandra, Lee saw the darkness that would eventually squash the summer of love dream and couldn't see himself living through it. His songs have an anger and frustration wrapped up in constantly shifting arrangements and tempos. In songs like A House Is Not A Motel and You Set The Scene, he couldn't figure out whether he wanted to check out or fight through the trouble. And his ambivalence bristles instead of shrugs.
J and I went to see Love and The Zombies at The Town Hall last year. It was really something to see Lee sing "this is the time and life that I am living and I'll face each day with a smile" with a curdled little grin. It looked as if, after all these years, nothing had changed at all. But there he was.
Little Red Book/Love
* I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself
Songs to Seek: Little Red Book, Seven & Seven Is, Signed DC, Alone Again Or, A House Is Not A Motel, You Set The Scene