Posts Tagged ‘Roger McGuinn’

Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

On this day August. 30th in 1968: The Byrds released their 6th studio album, ‘Sweetheart Of The Rodeo’, on Columbia Records; it was the sixth album to be released by the band The Byrds , recorded with the addition of country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons, it was influential as the first major country rock album by an established act and represented a stylistic move away from the psychedelic rock of the band’s previous album ,The Notorious Byrd Brotherssteered by the passion of the little-known Parsons, who had only joined The Byrds in February 1968, by the time the album was released in August, Parsons had left the band

It was massively influential as the first major country-rock album by an established act; the group had occasionally experimented with country music on their four previous albums, but ‘Sweetheart Of The Rodeo’ represented their fullest immersion into the genre; the album elicited a great deal of resistance & hostility from the ultra-conservative Nashville country music establishment, who viewed The Byrds as a group of long-haired hippies attempting to subvert country music – making “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo”, arguably, the first true ‘alt country’ record…

You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
2:41 I Am A Pilgrim
6:27 The Christian Life
9:01 You Don’t Miss Your Water
12:56 You’re Still On My Mind
15:26 Pretty Boy Floyd
18:06 Hickory Wind
21:44 One Hundred Years From Now
24:46 Blue Canadian Rockies
26:54 Life In Prison
29:45 Nothing Was Delivered

On the original album, Gram Parsons is featured singing lead vocals on the songs “Hickory Wind”, “You’re Still on My Mind”, and “Life in Prison”. Due to legal threat from Lee Hazlewood (who contended that the singer was still under contract to his LHI record label), Gram’s vocals on the three songs “The Christian Life”, “You Don’t Miss Your Water”, and “One Hundred Years from Now” were replaced by Roger McGuinn. Parsons’ original vocals were finally released on The Byrds box set in 1990 (as well as Sacred Hearts & Fallen Angels: The Gram Parsons Anthology in 2001).

Let’s not forget Chris Hillmans contributions, when we think of the Byrds, the Burrito Brothers..Parsons and Hillman were a formidable writing team, and contributed to the sounds of American music just as much as any thing Lieber and Stoler contributed. And when we’re grovin on Gram’s stuff , let’s also remember, Sneaky Pete Klienow the incredible steel pedal player who gave the burritos that, what I would call hippie trippie country sound.


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The fifth album from the grandfathers of American jangle guitar doesn’t have the notoriety or hits of Mr. Tambourine Man or Turn! Turn! Turn! Still, it may be the light heavyweight champion of their catalog, pound for pound the strongest punch of the bunch. That’s an especially impressive claim if you know the band’s chaos of the day. Notorious, indeed: Founding guitarist David Crosby was fired over their recording of Carole King’s “Goin’ Back” (ironically, this album’s only single), and Michael Clarke and Gene Clark eventually ping-ponged their way out the door too. Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman managed to expertly fill in the gaps with session musicians and production wizardry, outfitting their folk rock with trappings of the baroque and psychedelia—found and generated noises, poppy saxophone, the occasional sludgy riff, even early adoption of the Moog synthesizer.

The Notorious Byrd Brothers saw the band and producer Gary Usher making extensive use of a number of studio effects and production techniques, including Phasing, flanging and the introduction the sound of the pedal steel guitar into their music for the first time on the album, making it  alsoone of the first album releases on which the Moog appears.

The Notorious Byrd Brothers rings out like a glorious chiming bell and remains one of the band’s most loved albums. Its consistency is amazing, with one song after another bending one’s mind and inducing a smile. “Artificial Energy” kicks things off in fine style. Co-written by McGuinn, Hillman and Clarke, it’s a perfect album opener. The last song recorded for the album, it bursts forth with punchy horns and driving drums. Yes, it’s about speed, and it’s safe to say the lyrics probably wouldn’t fly today: “I’m coming down off amphetamine, and I’m in jail cause I killed a queen.”

The band’s take on Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Goin’ Back” is perhaps the definitive version of the song. Elsewhere, “Natural Harmony” and “Draft Morning” bask in pure beauty. (Chris Hillman’s role as composer really began to expand on Notorious, as he co-wrote eight of this LP’s 11 tracks.) Another Goffin/King song, “Wasn’t Born To Follow” offered here in all of its countrified glory – would later feature in the movie Easy Rider.

“Get to You” and “Old John Robertson” are both country-tinged numbers that glow of the era they sprang from, while “Change Is Now” is one of the band’s most beautiful songs without question, and its jingle-jangle guitars resonate for the ages.

“Tribal Gathering” has David Crosby written all over it. He and Hillman worked up this two-minute gem in homage to the “Gathering of the Tribes” festival held earlier that year in San Francisco. “Dolphin’s Smile” conjures up its own psychedelic aquatic adventure over just two minutes, before the album ends on an eerie note with “Space Odyssey.” A otherworldly drone set to a sea shanty waltz, the track is driven by a swirling wash of keyboards and guitars.

David Crosby was fired by McGuinn and Hillman in October 1967, as a result of friction arising from, among other things, Crosby’s displeasure at the band’s wish to record the song “Goin’ Back”. David Crosby felt that recording the song was a step backwards artistically, especially when the band contained three active songwriters. Another factor that contributed to Crosby’s dismissal was his controversial song “Triad”, a risqué composition about a menage a trois , The song was in direct competition with “Goin’ Back” for a place on the album.  Crosby eventually gave the tune to the Jefferson Airplane , who included a version of the song on “Crown Of Creation” Although the Byrds did record “Triad”, the song’s daring subject matter compelled McGuinn and Hillman to prevent it from being released at the time.

The results feel particularly transfused into the body of R.E.M.’s Document, and suggest multiple points in the soundtracks of Wes Anderson’s filmography.

The Byrds have had bigger hit songs like their recording of Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man which reached number one, as did their cover of Pete Seger’s Turn! Turn! Turn! but among the band’s self-penned tunes, none are more enduring, or as misunderstood, as Eight Miles High.

Released in 1966, “Eight Miles High” has been called the first psychedelic rock song. However, Roger McGuinn, who wrote the track with fellow Byrds members Gene Clark and David Crosby, disagrees. “It’s a unique song, sure,” he says, “but psychedelic wasn’t something we were trying for. It’s a big misunderstanding. If anything, I consider it to be the first jazz-rock song, or even jazz-fusion. But psychedelic? No, I wouldn’t call it that.”

McGuinn also dispels the widely held notion that “Eight Miles High” refers to drugs, the idea of which got the song banned on radio stations. In addition, he talks about the influence that Ravi Shankar and John Coltrane had on him during the writing of the track, along with how the version of the song that millions of listeners have heard over the years isn’t really the one the band intended to release. We Recorded it at RCA with Dave Hassinger as the engineer, but Columbia Records had a strict policy that they only used their house engineers, so we had to re-record it. It became a real sticking point between us and the label. So, in fact, we really did have kind of a demo—the RCA version is the demo. We went to the Columbia studios and redid it. Both versions are pretty good. I think the first one has more spontaneity, and the second one is better rehearsed.

We’d been doing pot and LSD at that point—everybody was experimenting with things. There wasn’t anything deliberate or intentional about that in the title. I didn’t really mean anything by it, except for the airplane trip to England that we’d been on. It was more about the trip than the drugs. The only drug reference is the word “high.”

We flew over to England—it was our first time there, our first concert tour—and a promoter had called us “America’s answer to the Beatles.” That’s a hard label to live up to. It’s all right for the studio, but it’s not so great on stage. The press was already out to get us, and we got bad reviews for the tour.

We did get to meet the Beatles—George, John and Paul. I don’t remember Ringo being around. Paul even drove us around to different gigs. I got to ride in his Aston Martin DB5, which was a thrill. Lennon asked me about my little glasses. He was interested in them because he wore prescription glasses, but he didn’t want to wear them on stage like Buddy Holly. From that standpoint, it was a great tour—well, except for myself getting the flu.

After coming home, Gene had some chord changes—the E minor, the G and the D. We started to write a song about the tour, but then I said, “Let’s make it about the airplane ride.” I’ve always been into airplanes and technology. Gene was kind of afraid of planes, but we decided to do that—make it about the plane ride. He asked me, “How high do you thing this plane flies?” And I said, “Maybe 39,000 feet”—that would be seven miles high.

At the time, the Beatles had a song called Eight Days a Week, so Gene thought eight was a cooler number than seven. I said, “Sure, let’s change it. Poetic license—who’s gonna care?” I didn’t think that the radio stations would do the math. The DJs said, “Commercial airlines don’t fly eight miles high. They must be talking about some other kind of high.”

Gene Clark & Roger McGuinn – Full Concert Recorded Live: 3/4/1978 – Capitol Theatre (Passaic, NJ) This is a very fine set, good songs from Gene Clark and Roger McGuinn who also played together in The Byrds and some very fine covers, among them three Bob Dylan songs are included.

1 – Release Me Girl
2 – Silver Raven
3 – Don’t You Write Her Off
4 – Jolly Roger
5 – Chestnut Mare
6 – Crazy Ladies
7 – You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
8 – Lover Of The Bayou
9 – Train Leaves Here This Morning
10 – Mr. Tambourine Man
11 – Bag Full Of Money
12 – Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)
13 – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
14 – So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star
15 – Eight Miles High
16 – Band Exit

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“Fifth Dimension” is the third album by the American folk rock band The Byrds and was released in July 1966 on Columbia Records .On December 22, 1965, shortly after the release of their second album Turn! Turn! Turn!, The Byrds entered RCA Studios in Los Angeles to record “Eight Miles High” and Why, the two new songs that they had recently composed. Both songs represented a creative leap forward for the band and were instrumental in developing the musical styles of psychedelic rock and raga rock. However, the band ran into trouble with their record company, Columbia Records, who refused to release either song because they had not been recorded at a Columbia owned studio. As a result, the band were forced to re-record both songs in their entirety at Columbia Studios, Hollywood and it was these re-recordings that would see release on the “Eight Miles High” single and the Fifth Dimension album.







Nice in depth profile of Gene Clark the original Byrd and songwriter of “Feel a Whole Lot Better” and “Eight Miles High” .He was only in the Byrds for a short period between 1964-66 after a short spell in the New Christy minstrels he heard the Beatles and wanted to form a rock band heading to Los Angeles he met folk singer Jim McGuinn assembled the Byrds and became the first of the country rock bands, He was the main songwriter and vocalist but a fear of flying and touring meant he left the band in 1966.  He suffered bouts of heavy drinking and this led to stomach ulcers which after surgery they removed most of his stomach and intestines which would lead later to his death in 1991.





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