ARTHUR LEE: The Book of Love July 11 2010
I have read John Einarson’s book cover to cover twice now. I found it a great read and easily the best and closest thing to being an accurate story from those days of the original band and those frist 3 records (and i base that on my own conversations over the years with Arthur, Johnny, Don Conca, Jay Donnellan, Jac Holzman, and Michael Stuart-Ware).
John’s book doesn’t claim to be the ‘whole story’, although i bet he could have written the whole story if he needed to or if that was his mission. Books are expensive to make and a company like Jawbone Press does such a great job with their books, the presentation, and quality, etc., that you have to accept that there is going to have to be a certain amount of pages and trust that the editing and writing deliver in a way that makes most of us feel that ‘they got it right’.
So, speaking for myself, I think the book is very well written, extremely honest and very informative. Do I feel some important things are missing? Of course. Do I feel there are some inaccuracies? Sure, but not on purpose and none to substantial. There will, no doubt, be other books written about Love and about Arthur Lee but I don’t think anyone will ever write a better book about Arthur Lee and his position as the leader of Love. Michael Stuart’s book is an excellent read and I truly hope Johnny Echols puts his story down to pen and paper.
As for myself, my project strictly relates my wonderful (and sometimes crazy!!!) times as Arthur’s guitarist, friend and collaborator. I kept notes, diaries…you name it…i kept lists of what we ate! I also have notes on conversations Arthur had with me and the other Baby Lemonade/ Love dudes about stuff and things he cared about… first-hand accounts of his ideas on songs…i have recordings of Arthur teaching us songs or collaborating on ideas and left the tape running…an in-depth discussion about rhythms and melodies and words on a given song would easily morph into a phone order for Fish & Ships, depending on what Arthur was focused on at the time.
But my ideas and things aside, my point is that John did a heck of a job with what he had. I remember hearing through the grapevine of his book being way too long so some things had to be edited. How much is anyone’s guess. I never went into this read thinking my position in all this would be conveyed fully. I only hoped it would be shown accurately, which I feel, in my heart, it has. I definitely think there is some bullshit in there, specifically from ‘revisionist’ interviewees, but that’s for each reader to figure out for themselves.
It was nice to see Tom Sweeney get mentioned in the book. Even though he wasn’t the best at what he did, he was smart enough and had the vision to convince Arthur that pick-up bands and un-exciting backing bands supporting him were short-term (SHACK being the exception), quick cash plots that ultimately would lead to disaster, as they didn’t require any particular PLAN or VISION. I know people who have worked with Arthur in the roughest of times claim he was impossible, trusted no one and they simply worked around all that and ‘got him paid’.
Well, Arthur respected Gene Kraut (and Glenn Povey, for that matter, before things soured) PRECISELY because they were ONLY interested in the big picture/ long run. They challenged him and and always approached everything like it was a team. This meant they were prepared to lose their own money and convinced Arthur to do the same, as well as asking us to except extremely low wages in order to build something special and significant. Additionally, string players and horn players joined suit and taking pay cuts for the BIG PICTURE. This was all accomplished with team leadership and Arthur was at the helm with Management and the band.
The book doesn’t exactly cover these areas but, then again it’s not meant to. As someone in Arthur’s family said to me last week, there should be a “rest of story”, but that will have it’s own place and time. For now, it’s the BOOK OF LOVE, which is more than deserving of your hard-earned currency and reading time. Something important, also, about OUR relationship with Arthur Lee; he was EXTREMELY protective of us. He would only refer to us as “My Band” and would rip people a new one when they tried to treat him good and treat us bad. We understood and WANTED Arthur to have the star treatment because he IS a star. We were happy in the background. But when people dissed us and only were interested in him, he became suspicious. As Arthur once said to me during a 5 – hour drive him, Susan Levine and I took from LA to San Francisco to play a show that was originally booked with no band (just Arthur!), “If everybody says I sound at my best and the music sounds ‘happening’ with Baby Lemonade, why am I playing a show by myself?”
That booking agent claims Arthur wanted it that way, as there was more money for him. I don’t doubt it. But was it in his best interest? Absolutely not. And he (A.L.) rang me and Chapple that morning (Daddy-0 and Rusty got fed up with the Booker B.S.ing us and turned down a last minute attempt by me to get the band up to the SF venue, Bottom Of The Hill , which SOLD out, btw…so much for money issues!) begging us to play that show with him, he didn’t want to play by himself. No one likes being lied to. The thing is, Arthur never had to lie to us and the only time he did as when he played shows with different musicians to save money. Each time we’d say, ‘hey we;re doing Baby Lemonade so knock yourself out. We love you and you gotta eat”. We never were a problem to Arthur in that regard, yet he also felt some sort of shame about not taking us on the road, like he still didn’t have a REAL band, having to use other bands and stuff, but at that time, finacially, there wasn’t a choice and we fully understood and accepted that but, San Francisco? Geez, that’s up the road! So when you read someone say we ‘rubbed them the wrong way’ try to remember; if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, flies like a duck and even quacks like a duck…
I think that dynamic was important and people should know that; Arthur wasn’t just disposing of musicians like Loo Roll. With Vision and Guidance and Trust, he was anybody’s to mold and shape. He had big dreams (starting a record label, writing a book, making a full-length record) andhad a very big heart. He would give you the shirt off his back. He loved his friends and loved his fans, especially in the U.K. We played there so much, so many times because Arthur loved them and clubs loved him and us. Gene and Glenn, many times, would advise us to work on making a record and THEN tour but Arthur felt that he had to keep going and also he knew we wanted to keep working. We all loved it.
It was nice to see so many folks from the past come out to Book Soup tonight and support Diane and John and we were honored to play the short little set we played. (former Manager) David Fairweather, (old friends) Dennis Kelley, (former Drummers) Joe Blocker, Len Fagen & Gary Stern, (former Lead Guitarist) Melvan Whittington and the usual Elektra suspects, Jac Holzman and Bruce Botnick. It was great to see Diane and it seems as though John Einarson was really treated well…Arthur fans showed him a lot of appreciation and over all, it was a highly positive experience. A Storm even hit minutes before we played our acoustic set! And then it disappeared just like that. Maybe Arthur having a Larf? More like Ripping the piss!
Well, thanks to all who showed up and special thanks to Daddy-0 and Chapple who not only play great but DC sang Five String Serenade!
Well, Netherlands and Espana play tomorrow…i think i know who Freedom Man wants to win!
All the best,