Saturday, August 14, 2010

Arthur Lee and Love -- "You Set the Scene" (1967)

I see your picture
It's in the same old frame
We meet again

You look so lovely
You with the same old smile
Stay for awhile

I started writing this one night just after I finished dinner.  These days, that means I've had a glass of red wine -- just following doctor's orders, of course. 

What the doctor ordered
As the philosopher said, "In vino, veritas."  So perhaps I was a little more uninhibited and unguarded than I usually am when I started to write this.  Especially because the glass that night was not the usual six ounces, but more like eight -- maybe even nine.  (I'm driving to Cape Cod tomorrow for a well-deserved vacation, and I needed to finish off the magnum of Barefoot shiraz I opened a couple of nights earlier before I hit the road.  Waste not, want not!)  

The extra vino would have meant some extra veritas if I had finished the post that night.  But I didn't, so this has a little less veritas than it might have.  That's probably just as well.  

Anyway . . .

I listened to this song while I was biking last weekend.  The lines quoted above brought to mind a number of women I knew in high school (some well, some barely at all), but hadn't seen for  many years until recently.  This is my little tribute to all those lovely girls of 40 years ago who are now what the French call femmes d'un certain age -- "women of a certain age" -- but still lovely.

When I see one of those women, I don't just see her as she is now -- I see her as she was 40 years ago as well.  She's really the same person deep down inside, after all.

You may all look your age.  (So do we men, of course -- heaven knows I do.)  But that's fine.  It's better than having plastic surgery or otherwise trying too hard to turn back the clock.  

Hey, I like women my age -- actually, I much prefer them.  It's a lot easier to talk to them than women who are 20 or 30 years younger, and they really do look just as good -- they look different than younger women, certainly, but that's OK.  It would be awful if all women were lovely in exactly the same way.

One final thought before we go to the music.  I was absolutely clueless about women when I was in high school.  Actually, that's an overstatement -- I wasn't completely clueless, just mostly clueless.  I really would love to go back 40 years and do some things differently.  Knowing me, of course, one chance to go back and follow a road not taken wouldn't be enough.  I'm guessing I might need a dozen or so do-overs to get it right.

Aren't you glad I waited until I was perfectly sober to write this post?  Just think how much more incoherent it might have been if I had poured that supersized glass of red wine down my throat just before sitting down at the keyboard.

A brief word about the music.  Arthur Lee and Love are one of my favorite groups of all time -- eccentric, eclectic, and generally all over the place.  They are everything you want from a sixties band.

Arthur Lee with Jimi Hendrix
And Arthur Lee was everything you want from the frontman of a band like Love -- he was Jim Morrison (the Doors were big fans) before Jim Morrison was Jim Morrison.  You've gotta love a guy who wears glasses with one lens tinted red and the other one tinted blue in order to purposely screw up his vision and see the world like no one else sees it.

I'm going to write about Arthur Lee and Love in greater detail in the future.  Suffice it for now to say that this is one of their more complex songs in terms of both the music and the lyrics.  It's really two songs in one.

Let's get right to it, shall we?

Here's a live 2003 performance of the song.  By coincidence, Lee was 58 at the time.  (He died of leukemia three years later.)

Use this to buy "You Set the Scene" from iTunes:

Use this to buy the song from Amazon:

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