Conceived as the last testament of a charismatic recluse who believed he was about to die, 'Forever Changes' is one of the defining albums of an era. Here, Andrew Hultkrans explores the myriad depths of this bizarre and brilliant record. Charting bohemian Los Angeles' descent into chaos at the end of the 60s, he teases out the literary and mystical influences behind Arthur Lee's lyrics, and argues that Lee was both inspired and burdened by a powerful prophetic urge.
'Forever Changes' may be thirty-six years old at the time of this writing, but its hermetic fusion of the personal and the political feels more relevant than ever. It speaks to the present in ways that, say, a Jefferson Airplane record never could, whatever the parallels between the late '60s and our contemporary morass. For unlike most rock musicians of his time, Arthur Lee was one member of the '60s counterculture who didn't buy flower-power wholesale, who intuitively understood that letting the sunshine in wouldn't instantly vaporize the world's (or his own) dark stuff. For him, the glittering surface of the Age of Aquarius obscured an undertow of impending doom."