Arthur Lee is one of those iconic figures who existed on the periphery of my musical experience; Forever Changes was an album I attempted to get into a number of times in the 1990s, frustrated by my failure to “get it” for the dumbest of reasons — the CD version that existed in the UK was mixed far too quietly and that distracted me every single time I listened — even though it was constantly referenced as this deeply influential, important piece of music. “Alone Again Or” was, for the longest time, the only Love song that I could actually recognize, and the band was, just like the Mamas and the Papas, this band I knew that I would love if only I could find a way inside. “Always See Your Face” was that way.
Like “Alone Again Or,” it’s a gentle song, despite how hard they’re trying to go as everything heads towards its close; it remains charmingly amiable thanks to the descending horn parts and Lee’s understated scatting during the guitar solo, not to mention the wide open spaces formed by the guitar riff at the song’s center. There’s just something inviting about the sound of it, inherently.
Lyrically, it’s vague to what should be the point of meaningless, but somehow the opposite is true. Maybe it’s Lee’s delivery, perhaps the universality of the sentiment — which feels like it comes directly from the blues, in its practiced melancholy — but “Won’t somebody please help me with my miseries/Can’t somebody see, yeah, what this world has done to me?” feels true on some primal level. It’s surprisingly potent, to me, at least.
I would hear this song in movies or TV shows, or out in the real world somewhere, and it’d stick with me for days after: The vocal melody of that first, “Won’t somebody please,” or the horns moving down slowly. Eventually, haunted by it, I looked it up and fell in love. It seems fitting for a song about being unable to escape something.