Friday, August 04, 2006

Alone Again (Or)

Arthur Lee, one of the finest singer/songwriters of the psychedelic--or any--era lost his battle with leukemia on 8/3/06. There isn't anything I can say about Lee that hasn't already been said. More importantly, his songs speak for themselves: "My Little Red Book,"* "Signed D.C," "Seven & Seven Is," "AndMoreAgain," etc. So here's something Robyn Hitchcock wrote about the man. The composition appears on his 1993 album, Respect.


The Wreck of the Arthur Lee

The wreck of the Arthur Lee
Will never return again
Never return again

The captain and all his men
Went up and jumped overboard
"Jesus is Lord," they cried

Believe in love!
Believe in love
And I'll believe in you

The missing Avenger planes
Will never return to base-
don't you wait up for them

How often have you boys said
"I ain't gonna bump no more."
"We ain't gonna bump no more."

Believe in love!
Believe in love!
And I'll believe if you'll believe in me
I got home
There was nobody there
Just the phone
let it ring in the air
But it's home


The wreck of the Arthur Lee
Will never return again
Never return again


Okay, I realize the title is a tad misleading, since "wreck" usually implies "waste," and that the words work better when set to music, but they're the first ones that came to mind when I heard about Lee's passing. For me, the key part is [trumpets]. Few musicians, Miles Davis aside, knew how to hip-ify that humble brass instrument quite like Mr. Arthur Lee.

Ironically, it was band member Bryan MacLean (1947-1998) who penned the mighty "Alone Again Or," which has come to be seen as Love's signature number. Lee was involved with its creation, of course, but I would hate to see anyone deprive MacLean of this crucial credit. (Please click here for the full details.)

Endnote: "My Little Red Book," one of Love's biggest hits, was written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. Then again, Harry Nilsson's highest chart-toppers, "Without You" and "Everybody's Talkin'," were also written by others. The pop marketplace is a funny thing. Lee image from The Love Society (Tom Sheehan credited), band image from the AMG. Arthur Lee was 61.

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