And if you see Andmoreagain
Then you will know Andmoreagain
For you can see you in her eyes.
Then you feel your heart beating
And when you've given all you had
And everything still turns out bad
And all your secrets are your own.
Wrapped in my armor
But my things are material.
Lost in confusions
'Cause my things are material.
And you don't know how much
I love you.
And if you see Andmoreagain
Then you might be Andmoreagain
For you just wish and you appear.
[Repeat B section]
Forever Changes has been frequently mentioned as one of the best albums of the psychedelic period, but at the time of its release it didn’t make it into the U.S. top 100. After releasing a couple of psychedelic cuts on their previous album Da Capo, the group Love abandoned the garage / protopunk style that had been the group’s signature sound, for a far more sophisticated orchestral performance written in odd chords with complex but precise melodies. Much of the music on the album featured classical guitar. Its closest older cousin would be Pet Sounds, though the harmonics are quite different as are the tone of the lyrics. They share however the avoidance of an electric sound so often associated with psychedelia, and the frequent use of careful compositional technique rather than technological marvels. In a sense, this is one of the last psychedelic albums that made use of what had been called “baroque rock”, a popular musical form for early psychedelia which was mostly abandoned after the Summer of Love. That is perhaps one reason for its lack of popularity at the time of its release. (I am surprised that Forever Changes fared much better in Britain than in the U.S., especially given England’s indifference to the Doors, a group with which they shared a similar aesthetic and record production team. I can only guess that England had more appetite for explorations of “baroque” melody than America did in late 1967.)
But there are other reasons for the album’s commercial failure in America. Foremost are the nonsensical titles and the difficult surrealistic lyrics. Greg Bartalos, in The Big Takeover wrote of the music in Forever Changes that “Although a dreamy and disorienting mood prevails, every note and sound seems to be exactly in the right place. SALVADOR DALI serves as a useful corollary. Dali’s paintings tend to be vivid and precise and of clear vision yet the net impact of Dali’s vision, like Lee’s, evokes haze, disorientation and strangely enough, remarkable clarity.” There’s an oddball hipper-than-thou quality to it, as Nicky Stevens wrote in Rock Matters, that is a precursor to the abstractions of Steely Dan in the 1970s. What comes through is the singer Arthur Lee’s loneliness, perhaps his isolation due to race, perhaps his isolation due to drug use, or a combination of both, and a somewhat jaundiced view of the hippie scene. Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork magazine claimed that Lee’s lyrics were among the first to be critical of the optimism expressed in most of 1967’s psychedelic lyrics. Until this point, only a few lyrics by the Buffalo Springfield, Velvet Underground, and Bob Dylan seriously questioned the belief that the truth could be found in an alternate (higher / spiritual) reality. Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix were writing “dark” lyrics, evoking the temptations of evil, but they both made it sexy. Arthur Lee wasn’t sexy; he was wounded. Mark Deming in allmusic wrote “Forever Changes is inarguably Love's masterpiece and an album of enduring beauty, but it's also one of the few major works of its era that saw the dark clouds looming on the cultural horizon, and the result was music that was as prescient as it was compelling.”
With all the competition to best Sgt. Pepper clamoring for attention on the American charts in 1967, Love’s attitude, slightly out of sync with the times, didn’t get much of a hearing. Had this album come out six months later, after the Summer of Love’s idealism was mostly abandoned in favor of the troubling visions found in The Band’s Music from the Big Pink, the lyrics of Forever Changes might have promoted better sales. However, by that time the sound of the album’s chamber orchestras and acoustic guitar would have gotten in the way of the louder, more aggressive 1968 “revolution”. Lee generally lacked the sense of humor that criticisms of hippiedom issued by Frank Zappa (We’re Only in it for the Money) and Bob Dylan (Quinn the Eskimo) had used to get their point of view across. So, the album remained in limbo to be “discovered” and reappraised decades later. Ben Edmonds in Electra Traditions (2001) wrote that Forever Changes has “an almost narcotic consistency and deceptive prettiness, [in which] the words can be like an itch that you can never quite put your finger on…The combination is thoroughly captivating and slightly unsettling--psychedelic in the truest sense."
Andmoreagain is perhaps the most accessible song on the album; an inattentive listener would be quick to hear the enchanting tumbling acoustic guitar lead of the B section, but mistake the lyric as a clumsy love song. With all its “ands” it seems as if the fashion started by Paul McCartney with And I Love Her has surpassed any restraint. In fact the “and” has become its own character, a character demanding “more” and “again”, brought together in one name as if addressed to a person. This person sounds greedy; however when looking into her eyes, the singer only sees a reflection of his own hunger. Like the Left Bank’s Pretty Ballerina, the singer seems to be able to evoke her from desire. And yet, the singer is quite aware that he’s not being satisfied in the real world, that in the real world “everything still turns out bad” and he is alone with his mental state. He seems to long to shed his material self, his “armor”, in order to reach her on another (spiritual?) plane. However, the irony is that his heart reacts to this vision and reminds the singer that he is still alive and therefore limited in the accomplishment of his desires. Is it love for the other or the fear of death that has his heart thrumming so strongly?