Song of the Day, April 7: A House Is Not A Motel by Love

LoveHouseMotelToday’s song is a dark warning about things that lurk beneath the surface. Love’s third album, Forever Changes, found band leader Arthur Lee convinced he was not long for the world. After two albums of flower power proto-punk, he rethought his musical direction, crafting a mostly acoustic masterpiece that encapsulated his concerns about the world around him. One of the finest moments is A House Is Not A Motel.

“At my house I’ve got no shackles,” he opens, invoking the peace-and-freedom scene his Bay area home was known for. His words grow more urgent, however, as he peers beneath the surface, looking at what complacency can allow in even the loveliest of settings. The world is our home, he warns, not just a place to stay for a while, and if we treat it badly, it will return the favor. By the end of the song he is clear:

And the water’s turned to blood, and if
You don’t think so
Go turn on your tub

Lee anchors the song with a desperate “Call my name!” chorus and a sting of electric guitar, piercing the folky flavor of much of the disc and lending the song extra power. The result is a smart, carefully designed warning and a high point in a complicated career.

Enjoy this powerful song today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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