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Forever Changes (Thirty Three and a Third series) Paperback – September 17, 2003
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"This former Bookforum editor openly identifies with this most apocalyptic of 60s El Lay albums, but he keeps his head in the game, fearlessly splashing around in lead Love-r Arthur Lee's disturbed psyche. He's sharp on the lyrics (maybe too sharp, given Lee's confused state) and slightly less so on the music, but he's killer on context: the album's fear, its overwhelming strangeness, its death-drive in a culture that only Lee knew was suffused with it. A-" —Austin American-Statesman, 10/17/04
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Also, if you're into smart, somewhat paranoid books about LA--Thomas Pynchon's "Crying of Lot 49," Joan Didion's "The White Album," Mike Davis's "City of Quartz," etc.--you'll find lots to like here.
For a start, this is a deeply personal book. If you have a problem with that approach, you will quite possibly hate it. To me, however, such an approach makes perfect sense with this album. 'Forever Changes' is not the kind of record that leaves people neutral - if it gets inside your head, inside your heart, then it will never leave. Astonishingly, it becomes more powerful with time, and when you see the re-juvenated Arthur Lee performing these songs after so long in the wilderness, it's almost like being born again. A phrase which brings me back to the book in hand...
Andrew Hultkrans, the author, does a remarkable job of digging into Arthur Lee's lyrics on this album. He writes beautifully about LA in the mid to late Sixties, about the whole scene of which Love were an integral part, and about the extraordinary mental state that Arthur Lee must have been in to create this masterpiece. There is a fair amount of religion and spirituality in here, specifically the concept of Gnosticism. It's entirely possible (as Hultkrans playfully admits) that he's reading too much into Arthur Lee's lyrics, but DAMN it's interesting, and it amazes me that people haven't latched on to this before. I kept catching myself smiling while reading this book - partly out of agreement with what Hultkrans was writing, and also out of sheer happiness that someone had taken the effort to express so well his thoughts about this incredible album.
I just recently got around to reading this book having had no idea what to expect of the author. At first, I was annoyed by his hard left political rants but then as I read on, I became engrossed by his obviously educated take on the album and its meaning. Make no mistake, if you are expecting airy gossip, then pass this book by. Hultkrans' Forever Changes is a thinking man's guide to the album. You may or may not agree with what he says, but you will come away at the end of the book listening to the album with a different mindset. You may even come away wanting to explore the writings of Kierkegaard, Huysmans, Woolf, and other referenced writers to see where Lee may have gotten existential inspiration.
Some reviewers didn't find much about Forever Changes in these pages. I found a great deal, not only about the songs, but about the peculiar cultural milieu that spawned Lee. I don't understand why several of the reviewers complain about the elevated tone of Hultkrans' exegesis. Most people I know who really like Forever Changes are of a thoughtful bent, so I would think that most who want to get beneath the surface of Lee's lyrics would be delighted by the approach here. After all, taken literally many of the songs seem nonsensical. However, when they are examined from the viewpoint of the arcane philosophies that seemed to animate Lee, then they begin to make some sense.
I enjoyed reading Forever Changes and would recommend it to anyone interested in looking at a great album in a radical new way. It would have gotten five stars had Hultkrans managed to keep his off-topic political biases to himself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Try reading "Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book Of Love" - The Authorized Biography of Arthur Lee by John Einarson. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Debbie Murphy
Make no mistake about it, Love’s Forever Changes is an album deserving of intellectual study. Not many albums are. Read morePublished on January 10, 2014 by Hans Pfaall
Forever Changes is a brilliant album - it regularly features high up in lists of the best ever made for very good reason - but it's also a deeply intriguing one. Read morePublished on May 16, 2013 by nicjaytee
Hultkrans paints a vivid picture of Arthur Lee and Love and especially the impact of this album over the past 40+ years. Read morePublished on March 26, 2013 by DJ
Every book in this series is a gamble. Some (Ween's "Chocolate And Cheese", Slayer's "Reign In Blood") are detailed accounts of what was going on with the band at the time of... Read morePublished on September 21, 2012 by Rich L.
Mr. Hultkrans starts the book with an admission that he never "got" this album until he had been made to listen to it many times. Read morePublished on June 10, 2012 by Hume
Andrew Hultkran's book reads like an undergraduate thesis, a thesis that's aiming to impress a professor who may have been a member of the Black Panthers/Merry Pranksters/Weather... Read morePublished on December 1, 2011 by Cousin Creep
This volume reads like something someone wrote as a literary disertation for some type of graduate work in music studies. Read morePublished on October 1, 2008 by TFR