Forever Changes

Looking back on the previous 39 albums on this list, I realize that this album is the first one that I had absolutely no knowledge of either the artist or the music on the album.  Sure, there have been others that I have been unfamiliar with, but I had at least heard of the artist or heard some of the songs on the radio.  But when I bought this album from Amazon for $8.71, I had absolutely no idea who Love was or what their music sounded like.  In short, I had no preconceived notions about this band whatsoever.  And as I write this, I am listening to the album for the third time, and I can’t help but think that this is what it would have sounded like if the Doors, the Byrds, and the Who had had a weeklong beach party during the Summer of Love with members of the London Philharmonic and a Mariachi band.  And on one night Bob Dylan stops by to hang out, and on another Hendrix shows up.  And finally, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band comes and hangs out for the weekend.  And this album is the lovechild that is produced from that weeklong hippie festival.

All kidding aside, this album is very interesting.  I have read that it has generated more critical acclaim than popular appeal, and my guess is this is because this album is very free form and devoid of most popular music structures.  In a way, its similar to the direction Radiohead took with “Kid A” and “Amnesiac” in the 2000s.  None of the songs are in strophic form, and only one actually has a chorus.  Many of the songs suddenly take strange directions, and instrumental breaks with Mariachi horns and orchestral strings abound.  And despite being firmly routed in the ’67 Summer of Love, the lyrics are surprisingly dour, dealing with themes of isolation and apocalypse.  But somehow it all sort of fits together into a sort of hippie symphony.

Other lists: “Alone Again Or” is #442 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

My favorite track: “Alone Again Or”

Honorable mention: “You Set the Scene”

Quote: “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 I must do consist of more than style.”