Sunday, August 06, 2006

Arthur Lee - -going through those Forever Changes

Arthur Lee - -(1945-2006)Musician and frontman of LOVE.

Aug. 3rd - - -Arthur Lee, frontman of 60s psychedelic legends Love, has died at the age of 61. He had been suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Rangy and invariably slouching, in tiny-frame shades and dandyish, kaleidoscopically colored clothes, Lee called himself "the first black hippie," and his band pushed boundaries. Love was one of the first major interracial bands in rock and one of the first to record a song long enough to fill one side of an album, with the 19-minute "Revelation," from its second release, "Da Capo."

A recent New York benefit concert had seen Robert Plant, Yo La Tengo, Ryan Adams and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah come together to raise money for Lee's medical expenses. However, in an emailed statement, released by Lee's manager, Mark Linn, confirmed that the singer had succumbed to the disease on Thursday afternoon (August 3). The statement read:

"Arthur Lee died peacefully at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, a little after four in the afternoon Aug 3, 2006 with his wife Diane by his side.
"His death comes as a shock to me because Arthur had the uncanny ability to bounce back from everything, and leukemia was no exception. He was confident that he would be back on stage by the fall. "When I visited with him recently, he was visibly moved by the stories and pictures from the NYC benefit concert. "He was truly grateful for the outpouring of love from friends and fans all over the world since news of his illness became public. "Arthur always lived in the moment, and said what he thought when he thought it. I'll miss his phone calls, and his long voice messages, but most of all I'll miss Arthur playing Arthur's music."

I think the first time I really heard the whole Forever Changes album was maybe in 1974. Later on I got a copy of my own. Then sometime in 2003 I came across the release of a Dvd with a live version of Forever Changes performed as a concert with full strings in England in 2003. I found this to be a very moving concert.

Here is a recent take on Forever Changes found at the Washington Post in light of Arthur Lee's passing:"

"Forever Changes" is one of those works of art that are not for everybody but are very much for some people, along the same lines as Malcolm Lowry's novel "Under the Volcano" (which generally bores and annoys those it fails to bowl over) or Alain Resnais's "Last Year at Marienbad" (which is regularly chosen as both one of the best and one of the worst films ever made). It was never a "hit" -- there were dozens of records in 1967 that outsold "Forever Changes" many times over. But it never quite went out of print, either, and, year after year, devotees passed on copies to new listeners with evangelical fervor, with the result that its legion of fans is notably multi-generational. And so my 19-year-old son and his musician friends love "Forever Changes" just as much as I did at their age, and for many of the same reasons, few of which have anything to do with nostalgia.

What does it sound like? Well, imagine taking one of the most tuneful and adventurous pop albums by the Byrds ("Younger Than Yesterday" maybe, or "Notorious Byrd Brothers") and allowing it to marinate for a year or two in the most decadent and exotic spices. Then toss in some of the unhinged paranoia of Syd Barrett and the early Pink Floyd, the reclusive melancholy of post-surf Brian Wilson, the cotton-candy orchestration of '60s arrangers such as Paul Mauriat ("Love Is Blue") or Joshua Rifkin (who fashioned Judy Collins's hit version of "Both Sides Now") and set it all to dark and prophetic lyrics that seem to mean much more than they dare to say. "Forever Changes" combines a seductive surface prettiness with a sense that something is desperately wrong. It is psychedelia at its edgiest." - - - - Tim Page, Wash. Post --- 8/5/06

Its very sad and too bad. I would have loved to have seen Arthur Lee and Baby Lemonade as Love. In 2003, 2004 , they did extensive touring in Europe. At least there is the Dvd that captures a full Forever Changes concert in England. And at least he got a third chance in life. His 2nd was in 1992 to 1996, when he got Love going again, but the procrustian stupidity of Calif. 3 strikes law meant he did 6 years in prison. What a waste of musical talent, just because he fired a pistol in the air, in a dispute with a neighbor.

I would like someday to see Johnny Echols and the Love Band.

Meanwhile Arthur Lee is off into the bardo. He was said to be especially touched in June when Robert Plant and others did a benefit concert for him in New York. So he generated a lot of Love in his life, was hugely popular in England, and leaves a musical legacy . Rolling Stone, the LA Times and The Washington Post have all done good reflective articles on his passing.

As he says in You Set the Scene:

This is the time and life that I am living
And I'll face each day with a smile
For the time that I've been given's such a little while
And the things that I must do consist of more than style
There are places that I am going

This is the only thing that I am sure of
And that's all that lives is gonna die
And there'll always be some people here to wonder why
And for every happy hello, there will be good-bye
There'll be time for you to put yourself on ...

Very Buddhist lyrics to me, and then there was prophecy too:

By the time that I'm through singing
The bells from the schools of wars will be ringing
More confusions, blood transfusions
The news today will be the movies for tomorrow
--- (A House is not a Motel)

I was watching blood transfusions taking place in Haifa,today and then a trailer for Oliver Stone's World Trade Center came on which opens soon.

Life goes on here
Day after day
I don't know if I am living or if I'm
Supposed to be....
Sometimes my life is so eerie,
And if you think I'm happy
Paint me black-(white).....

Arthur's going through those Forever Changes now. We'll miss him, and hope he gets to see Jimi, and Bryan Maclean, and Janis and Syd, and others.

1 comment:

debi said...

Music then,,GOD I miss it.Thanks enjoyed your thoughts.