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Forever Changes (Thirty Three and a Third series) Paperback – September 17, 2003

2.9 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"I love a critic who doesn't profess to be infallible, so Andrew Hultkrans immediately won me over by admitting he was previously "absolutely, laughably wrong" about Forever Changes…Hultkrans takes the record very, very seriously; accordingly, his book is a reverential, fastidious tome." — Seattle Weekly

"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

From the Publisher

"Thirty Three and a Third" is a new series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the last 40 years. The authors provide fresh, original perspectives – often through their access to and relationships with the key figures involved in the recording of these albums. By turns obsessive, passionate, creative, and informed, the books in this series demonstrate many different ways of writing about music. What binds the series together, and what brings it to life, is that all of the authors – musicians, broadcasters, scholars, and writers – are huge fans of the album they have chosen.

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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3
  • Paperback: 127 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826414931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826414939
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.4 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It's fair to say that readers of Rolling Stone or Guitar Player may hate this book. If you're looking for sentences like, "Arthur drifted into GoldStar Studios on August 3rd, plugged in his red Gibson E-335, and strummed an Fmaj7 while sneering at his bandmates," you've come to the wrong place. But I have to strongly disagree with the reviewer below that the book is not about or for fans of Love and "Forever Changes." The writer digs very deep into the historical context of the album--late '60s Los Angeles--and the mindset of its creator, Arthur Lee. He lays out a pocket biography of Lee and gathers tons of quotes from the band, its peers, and LA scenesters and commentators. Through close readings of the lyrics of "Forever Changes," the author unearths plenty of hidden meanings and veiled influences. He treats the album like a difficult novel and tries to get to the bottom of it. This may not be your typical music book, but it's a fascinating book of ideas, and I came away from it with a far richer understanding of the baffling genius of "Forever Changes." The writing and approach--a blend of literary sensibility, cultural history, personal riffage, intuition--matches the enduring complexity of its subject. If all you want from music writing is trivia, gear descriptions, and commentary like "Yeah, man, it's a rilly great album," look elsewhere. But if you think the best records deserve the kind of deep appreciation usually reserved for literature, art, and film, you won't be disappointed.

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.
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Format: Paperback
To tell the truth, I was dreading reading this book. It's not often that a book is devoted to a band or an album about which I care so deeply, and it seemed very likely that this would be another well-meaning but shallow tome along the lines of Barney Hoskyn's disappointing Arthur Lee biog last year. But this little book, in the short space of 121 pages, blew me away.
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Forever Changes is one of my all-time favorite albums and is one of the few I listened to as a youth that I never tire of hearing. So naturally I am as interested in reading about the enigmatic Arthur Lee and his band as I am in listening to them.

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.
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