A thought in my head, I think
Of something to do.
Expressions tell everything--
I see one on you.
Whoa-oh-oh-oh, my love she comes in colors.
You can tell her from the clothes she wears.
When I was invisible
I needed no light.
You saw right through me, you said.
Was I out of sight?
When I was in England town
The rain fell right down.
I looked for you everywhere
'Til I'm not around.
The group Love (like the Doors and the Buffalo Springfield) was a local Whiskey-A-Go-Go sensation in Los Angeles by the time their first album came out. The album from which this song is drawn is actually Love’s second album Da Capo. The group’s biggest hit, Seven and Seven Is, a cut on this album, done in a the proto-punk and garage band style of the Seeds, was their biggest hit, reaching #33 on the Billboard charts, though I don’t recall having heard it during its release in the Summer of 1966. The song She Comes in Colors instead takes on a style that the group would adopt for the entirety of their next album, Forever Changes, in which instrumental accompaniment is for the most part acoustic, with chamber music dimensions suggested by harpsichord and flute.
Arthur Lee is frequently mentioned as the person who brought Jim Morrison to the attention on Electra records. The style of the Doors and Love was similar during this period as they shared some garage band roots as well as high art intentions for pop with classically trained musicians in the group, though their sound would diverge during the progress of 1967. The Doors and Love shared the same audio engineer and producer. Arthur Lee also worked with Jimi Hendrix, but Lee was the first of the Black psychedelic performers to release records in the United States, a difficult breakthrough at the time. Racially integrated groups were not yet acceptable until Jimi Hendrix’s sweepingly popular Are You Experienced? in the Summer of 1967, followed by the early 1968 success of Sly and the Family Stone.
I have to admit here that I did not know the music of Love until I began research for this collection of Psychedelic Masterworks, and found their work frequently cited as among the best of the period. This is the first time that a psychedelic group failed so terribly to make an impression on Top 40 that I passed them up, but it certainly won’t be the last, as the music by this point was starting to proliferate so quickly that it was difficult to keep track of all the developments at the time.
Jimi Hendrix never made his race an issue in his lyrics, but Lee seems to touch upon the topic of being Black here and there in his songs, if ever so lightly, suggesting more his interior psychological depression than race relations’ sociological dimension. In She Comes in Colors, Lee suggests that “she” expresses herself by what she wears; while he remains “invisible” perhaps because people disregard him for the color of his skin. He throws out a pun about his invisibility meaning that he’s “out of sight”, a 1960s expression for being cool.
It is sometimes suggested by critics that the Rolling Stones stole the idea of She’s A Rainbow from this song, but the Stones take it in an entirely other direction. When the Stones sing that “She comes in colors”, they mean a psychedelic rainbow trail that she leaves behind when she moves (think the Yellow Submarine movie’s depiction of Lucy in the Sky). Arthur Lee seems to be envying the fact that a White woman can change the colors of her clothing according to fashion, while a Black man remains invisible in his Blackness. It is entirely possible that Stones borrowed the idea from Love, just as it’s entirely possible that Love’s Revelation on the album Da Capo is drawn from the Stones’ Goin’ Home, off the Aftermath album, as both songs share a similar blues improvisational approach to making a lengthy cut to close out an album. (Neither is so successful at this as The Doors in The End.)
Musically, She Comes in Colors is different from other recordings in psychedelia up to this point in that it has two breaks divided by a chorus. The first break features a flute, and the second a harpsichord. They play together in a well-structured coda. Alban “Snoopy” Pfisterer’s harpsichord takes on a quick and light style like Ray Manzarek’s in the Doors, but less jazz influenced and expansive, tending toward a classical style. A session man, Tjay Cantrelli played flute.