Al Kooper — “Love Theme from The Landlord”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — April 24, 2023


804) Al Kooper — “Love Theme from The Landlord

This ’70 album track and ’71 B-side and soundtrack track is a gorgeous and “haunting” song (Lindsay Planer, by Kooper (see #642, 705) Kooper, the victim of a bloody, sweaty and tearful coup d’état, somehow got to score Hal Ashby’s first film — The Landlord — “an acclaimed social satire starring Beau Bridges as a wealthy young man Elgar who leaves his family’s estate in Long Island to pursue love in a Brooklyn ghetto.” (

As Alfie Hitchie describes the flick:

At the age of 29, Elgar Enders (Beau Bridges) “runs away” from home. This running away consists of buying a building in a black ghetto in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Initially, his intention is to evict the black tenants and convert it into a posh flat. But Elgar is not one to be bound by yesterday’s urges, and soon he has other thoughts on his mind. He’s grown fond of the black tenants and particularly of Fanny . . . the wife of a black radical; he’s maybe fallen in love with Lanie . . , a mixed race girl; he’s lost interest in redecorating his home. Joyce . . . his mother has not relinquished this interest and in one of the film’s most hilarious sequences gives her MasterCharge card to Marge (Pearl Bailey), a black tenant and appoints her decorator.

How did Kooper get this gig? He says “I wish I knew”!, going on to say:

[Ashby] was a fan, so that had a contribution. Being that it was his first film, I couldn’t really judge him from anything, but I spent a lot of time with him. And he was a very unusual guy. [laughter] And I enjoyed the time I spent with him. And I hoped that he liked the score.

Oh, and the song has become an unlikely go-to source for samples by multiple hip-hop artists, including Jay-Z. (

Kooper should have long ago been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Bruce Eder says that he “by rights, should be regarded as one of the giants of ’60s rock, not far behind the likes of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon in importance” and goes on to say:

[H]e was a very audible sessionman on some of the most important records of mid-decade . . . . Kooper also joined and led, and then lost two major groups, the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears. He played on two classic blues-rock albums in conjunction with his friend Mike Bloomfield. As a producer at Columbia, he signed the British invasion act the Zombies just in time for them to complete the best LP in their entire history; and still later, Kooper discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd and produced their best work.

An exasperated Mark Daponte adds on:

When it comes to Al Kooper’s storied career in rock, the multi-instrumentalist man checks every rock box. Hit songwriter? Check. His credits include “This Diamond Ring,” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys and “I Can’t Quit Her” by the group he created, Blood Sweat and Tears. Session player? Check. That’s him at age 21 playing the Hammond B-3 organ on Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” French horn on the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” piano on Jimi Hendrix’s “Long Hot Summer Night” and guitar playing with Stephen Stills and Mike Bloomfield on Super Sessions, a live album that cost $13,000 to make, sold over 450,000 copies and made it to #11 on the Billboard Top 20. The follow-up LP, The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, even had cover art done by Norman Rockwell—a fella not known to rock particularly well. Producer? Check. More like multiple “checks” for producing The Tubes’ debut and the first three Lynyrd Skynrd albums, the soundtrack to the John Waters’ movie Cry Baby and co-producing Dylan’s New Morning album. . . . Yet, for all of his years of being a “secret weapon” that rockers frequently utilized, this rock and roll “Zelig” remains pretty much a secret to the general public, especially to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame voters who have yet to put him on a ballot.

Here’s Jay-Z:

Here’s the trailer:

Here’s the movie:

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