May 09, 2013

Love - Old Man (1967)

Best remembered for their critically acclaimed album Forever Changes, this band was led by the singer and songwriter Arthur Lee (born March 7th, 1945). In their formative years, the band was known as The Grass Roots; but when another band of the same name released a single, Lee’s outfit looked to change their name. According to Lee, their new name was chosen by polling an audience in 1965 to see which name they liked best. The names rejected that night included Dr. Strangelove and Poetic Justice, Summer’s Children, Asylum Choir, and The Love. According to Bobby Beausoleil, an ex-"sometimes" member of the band under the Grass Roots name, Lee chose the new bandname after becoming inspired by Beausoleil’s nickname, Cupid. Although no one can be certain as to how the name came about, it can be understood why Lee would want to distance himself from anything to do with Beausoleil, as he was an associate of the Charles Manson Family and given a life sentence for the murder of Gary Hinman in 1969.

Released on the band’s Forever Changes album, this song was written and sang by Bryan MacLean, the band’s primary rhythm guitarist. MacLean, who dated Liza Minnelli and Jackie De Shannon and was an ex-roadie for The Byrds, also wrote the band’s most popular song, “Alone Again Or,” appearing on the same album. Forever Changes was initially scheduled to be produced by Bruce Botnick and Neil Young. But due to his obligations to Buffalo Springfield at the time, Young had to turn the production duties over to the band’s own Arthur Lee.

album art

Love - Old Man (1967)

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I once knew a man
Been everywhere in the world
Gave me a tiny, ivory ball
Said it would bring me good
Never believed it would, until
I have been loving you

Dear old man
He'd seen most everything
Gave me a piece of good advice
Said it would do me well
I couldn't really tell, until
I have been loving you

Now it seems
Things are not so strange
I can see more clearly
Suddenly I've found my way

I know the old man would laugh
He spoke of love's sweeter days
And in his eloquent way
I think he was speaking of you

You are so lovely
You didn't have to say a thing
But I remember that old man
Telling me he'd seen the light
Gave me a small, brown, leather book
Insisted that he was right
I only heard him slightly
'til I heard you whisper
Took you up all in my arms

Dear old man
Wise old man
Fine old man, now

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