New Digs Old Digs: Finding LOVE In Hollywood

Yasso Ando

Tom Verlaine by Tom Verlaine (1979)

It is my second visit to Hollywood, and I am having no interest in accompanying my friend’s L.A. sightseeing tour to the Chinese theatre, Universal Studios, etc. Instead, I decided to go to an old record shop on Sunset Boulevard that I had been thinking about. It didn’t take much time to find the shop, and I was leisurely digging for treasures—it was before noon and I had the whole place to myself. Luckily, I found most of the solo albums by Tom Verlaine that hadn’t been digitized yet, and two albums by LOVE, the first folk/punk/rock band to sign with Elektra (the same record label as Tom Verlaine), which were yet to come out on CD.

Four Sail by LOVE (1969)

Only a year after releasing Forever Changes, LOVE’s third and last album with the original members, Arthur Lee rebooted the band with a totally different musician lineup to set off on a brand new voyage—creating the 4th album Four Sail. The title is a pun on The Beatles’ 4th album Beatles For Sale.

Reel to Real by LOVE (1974)

I didn’t expect to come across Reel To Real in that shop. It is the original pressing of the last album by LOVE, released in 1974. I listened to the album almost everyday until one day I noticed parts of the lyrics from Which Witch is Which?

Don’t be good

Don’t be bad

Don’t be happy

Don’t be sad

(Arthur Lee, 1974)

It reminded me of a line from Tom Verlaine’s Marquee Moon, from the time he was with Television.

He said, “Look here junior, don't you be so happy

And for Heaven's sake, don't you be so sad“

(Tom Verlaine, 1977)

Tom Verlaine, who was so excited about signing with Elektra Records, must have known about Arthur Lee, his predecessor at the same record label. It makes me think that the two lyrics are somehow connected—could this be an homage to Arthur from Tom…?

Marquee Moon by Television (1977)

Album sleeve with profile of Elektra Records (from around 1977)

In the early ‘90s, Tom Verlaine supposedly commented in his interview that he hoped to move to Japan and spend the rest of his musical life there. Arthur Lee was also positive about touring Japan, according to official statements. Neither dreams really came true at the end, although, Television managed to go to Japan years later.

Why did they show such interest in Japan? They were true geniuses that valued the quality of their art over its commercial value, and perhaps that found them more fans in places like Japan and Europe, instead of their homeland. The fact that I was able to find two big stars of Elektra Records in the only record shop I visited in Hollywood, with their monumental albums sold so cheaply—speaks volumes.

Translation by Mika Anami

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