5.20-ALONE AGAIN OR (Love)

Bryan MacLean in front with guitar


Yeah, said it's all right.
I won't forget
All the times I've waited patiently for you
And you'll do just what you choose to do.

And I will be alone again tonight my dear.

Yeah, I heard a funny thing;
Somebody said to me:
“You know that I could be in love with almost everyone.
I think that people are the greatest fun.”



[Repeat 2nd verse]



Besides being one of only two songs on Forever Changes that were not written by Arthur Lee, but by another member of Love, this song is different from the rest in that it has a mariachi feel and a horn section that has repeatedly reminded listeners of the Tijuana Brass. (Wikipedia reports that Bruce Botnick, co-producer of Forever Changes, had recently worked with the Tijuana Brass indeed.) However, it is mixed in the same manner as most of the other cuts, beginning with an acoustic guitar from one speaker, joined by the rest of the musicians in the other speaker, and Arthur Lee sounds like the lead singer as always. Lee in this case, though, is singing the high end of harmonies, straining the vocal upward. The songwriter, Brian MacLean, who originally sang the melody, was mixed down, in one of the only moments of harmonization in the entire album. The horn part is rather longingly lovely, and perhaps explains why the song was considered the most likely to succeed as a single on the radio. It reached as high on the charts as #99 when it was released in 1970.

The lyrics follow a line of thinking that ran through the late 60s as American males became aware of the effects of the “free love” ethic on their women. Alone Again Or echoes the feelings expressed in Bob Dylan’s She Belongs to Me (off of the 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home) and the Rolling Stones’ 1967 number one hit single Ruby Tuesday. It is, however, far more economical and sarcastic, the “my dear” evoking, at least in this listener, Rett Butler’s response to Scarlett O’Hara’s schemes in Gone with the Wind: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” The poet’s heart is excoriated by his lovers’ footloose ways. He will find himself “peeking through a keyhole down upon [his] knees,” as Dylan put it in She Belongs to Me, if he expresses prurient interest in her affairs. He doesn’t want to go there, but at the same time, he feels more abandoned than Ruby Tuesday’s self-possessed “Still, I’m going to miss you.”