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Forever Changes is the third studio album by the American psychedelic rock band Love. It was released by Elektra Records in November 1967 and would be the final album by the original band, as subsequent albums featured leader Arthur Lee backed by a variety of new players.
Forever Changes failed to achieve commercial success when it was first released in 1967, but it has since become recognized as one of the greatest albums ever made, ranking 40th on Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008, and being added to the National Recording Registry in 2011. The album was also included in Robert Christgau's "Basic Record Library" of 1950s and 1960s recordings, published in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981). It was voted number 12 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums 3rd Edition (2000).
In 1966, Love had released two albums in relatively rapid succession, including their second LP Da Capo, which spawned their only Top 40 hit, "7 and 7 Is". However, the group's opportunity for major national success dwindled as a consequence of frontman Arthur Lee's unwillingness to tour, Lee's deteriorating relationship with Love's other songwriter Bryan MacLean, and the overshadowing presence of label-mates The Doors. In a 1992 interview, MacLean spoke of him and Lee "competing a bit like Lennon and McCartney to see who would come up with the better song. It was part of our charm. Everybody had different behaviour patterns. Eventually, the others couldn't cut it". Throughout this period the band – reduced to a quintet with the departures of Alban "Snoopy" Pfisterer and Tjay Cantrelli – were known to retreat to Bela Lugosi's mansion in Hollywood, nicknamed "The Castle", where the group became further stagnated by their use of LSD and heroin.
Rather than base his writings on Los Angeles's burgeoning hippie scene, Lee's material for Forever Changes was drawn from his lifestyle and environment. The songs reflected upon grim but blissful themes and Lee's skepticism with the flower power movement. Writer Andrew Hultkrans explained Lee's frame of mind at the time: "Arthur Lee was one member of the '60s counterculture who didn't buy flower-power wholesale, who intuitively understood that letting the sunshine in wouldn't instantly vaporize the world's (or his own) dark stuff". Love's third studio album also brought about a sense of urgency for Lee. With his band in disarray and growing concerns over his own mortality, Lee envisioned Forever Changes as a lament to his memory.
At this juncture, Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman suggested to Love to "advance backwards" by embracing the more subtle approach of folk music. While typically independent in his musical directions, Lee accepted Holzman's proposal, setting the foundational approach to the Forever Changes recording sessions. Having already produced the group's first two albums, Bruce Botnick was enlisted in overseeing the production of the third album along with Lee. Botnick, who had just finished working on Buffalo Springfield's Buffalo Springfield Again, invited Neil Young to co-produce the upcoming Love album, but Young, after initially agreeing, excused himself from the project. As Botnick recalled "Neil really had the burning desire to go solo and realize his dream without being involved in another band". According to the liner notes in the compilation album Love Story, Young was involved in Forever Changes long enough to arrange the track "The Daily Planet." Young, however, has denied such involvement.
The title of the album came from a story that Lee had heard about a friend-of-a-friend who had broken up with his girlfriend. She exclaimed, "You said you would love me forever!" and he replied, "Well, forever changes." Lee also noted that since the name of the band was Love, the full title was actually Love Forever Changes.