Greatest Songs, #436: “Alone Again Or” by Love

Album: Forever Changes (Elektra Records)
Year: 1968
Written by: Bryan MacLean
Billboard Hot 100: #99

 From Rolling Stone:

The Psychedelic Cowboys of Love became famous for their dark, poetic L.A. folk rock. But “Alone Again Or” was written and partly sung by guitarist MacLean — who later left the band to join a Christian ministry — as a tribute to his mother’s flamenco dancing. The final take is a decidedly trippy swirl of strings, horns and Spanish-style acoustic guitars.

From Wikipedia:

The song was inspired by his memory of waiting for a girlfriend, and the melody drew on Prokofiev‘s Lieutenant Kije Suite. The essence of the song is the contrast between the positivity of the tune and the bleakness of the lyrics, with the chorus “And I will be alone again tonight, my dear.”

From allmusic, reviewing the album:

Love’s Forever Changes made only a minor dent on the charts when it was first released in 1967, but years later it became recognized as one of the finest and most haunting albums to come out of the Summer of Love, which doubtless has as much to do with the disc’s themes and tone as the music, beautiful as it is. Sharp electric guitars dominated most of Love’s first two albums,…but most of Forever Changes is built around interwoven acoustic guitar textures and subtle orchestrations, with strings and horns both reinforcing and punctuating the melodies. The punky edge of Love’s early work gave way to a more gentle, contemplative, and organic sound on Forever Changes, but while Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean wrote some of their most enduring songs for the album, the lovely melodies and inspired arrangements can’t disguise an air of malaise that permeates the sessions. A certain amount of this reflects the angst of a group undergoing some severe internal strife, but Forever Changes is also an album that heralds the last days of a golden age and anticipates the growing ugliness that would dominate the counterculture in 1968 and 1969… 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.