Posts Tagged ‘Turn Turn Turn’

The Byrds: Turn! Turn! Turn! —

The signature guitar orchestra led by McGuinn’s jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker dominates the music of the opening title track, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)”. These guitars are complimented by perfectly harmonized vocals, and Clarke’s rolling drum pattern under the chorus sections. While it is filled with so much sustained guitar textures, it stops on a dime several times between each verse/chorus sequence, including a false ending before a coda with extra intensity. The song was originally composed by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, with many of the lyrics were lifted from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, possibly written by King Solomon in the 10th century BC. With that, the song holds the distinction as the #1 pop hit with the oldest lyrics.

Like the opener, “It Won’t Be Wrong”, is another upbeat track but with more standard love song style lyrics. Co-written by McGuinn and Harvey Gerstand, this track features some interesting style changes which make it unconventional and a bit strange. Clark’s, “Set You Free This Time”, is a country/pop flavored track, especially in its vocal approach. In fact, this is the first song to feature solo lead singer, with harmonies used sparingly and with Clark’s fine harmonica solo as the song fades out.

“Lay Down Your Weary Tune”, is the first of two Bob Dylan covers on the album and is set up like a spiritual with the chorus/hook featuring heavy harmonies. Musically, this song has much the same jangly vibe and strong drums as previous tracks, but with an added heavy bass presence by Hillman. The first side concludes with an original rendition of the traditional folk tune, “He Was a Friend of Mine”, a finger-picked acoustic song with stripped down arrangement and a slight, distant organ by Melcher under the later verses.

“The World Turns All Around Her”, is a fine, pop-oriented composition by Clark which may only suffer from lack of strong rhythm presence in production mix. “Satisfied Mind”, follows as a country-esque cover of a folk song by Red Hayes and Jack Rhodes. Along with the fine sparse instrumentation and harmonica lead, this track is highlighted by profound and philosophical lyrics;

Money won’t buy back your youth when you’re old, a friend when you’re lonely or a love that’s grown cold / The wealthiest person is a pauper at times compared to the man with a satisfied mind…”

Clark’s, “If You’re Gone”, is different than any other track on the album. Vocal-centric with a slow-rock backing, the song has distinct and interesting, almost haunting, chanting low-register vocals. While not quite as potent as their cover of, “Mr Tambourine Man”, the Byrds’ cover of, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” ,still dekuvers somewhat of an interesting arrangement of the Dylan classic.

Further, the group members were pleasantly surprised when Beatles George Harrison and Paul McCartney showed up during the recording of this track. “Wait and See”, is the only song to feature Crosby as a co-writer, along with McGuinn, while the group chose to do a souped up version of the popular campfire song, “Oh! Susannah”, to close the album.

Turn! Turn! Turn! peaked in the Top 20 of album charts in both the US and UK.

The Byrds

  • Jim McGuinn – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
  • Gene Clark – rhythm guitar, harmonica, tambourine, vocals
  • David Crosby – rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Chris Hillman – electric bass (backing vocal on “Lay Down Your Weary Tune”)
  • Michael Clarke – drums (tambourine on “He Was a Friend of Mine”)

Additional personnel

  • Terry Melcher – organ on “He Was a Friend of Mine”

Image may contain: 3 people, people on stage and people playing musical instruments

The Byrds – 1965 – Founded in 1964 by Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark, the original Byrds also included Chris Hillman, Michael Clarke, and Crosby. The band, featuring McGuinn’s sublime, jangly, 12-string Rickenbacker and beautiful three-part harmonies was one of the most influential Rock bands of the era, and arguably with the Doors and Crosby, Stills and Nash, the three greatest American Rock groups of the 1960s. The original band recorded three albums: “Mr Tambourine Man,” (1965), Turn! Turn! Turn! (1966), and “Fifth Dimension,” (1966).

These albums contained some of Gene Clark’s finest compositions” “Set You Free This Time,” “Here Without You,” “She Don’t Care About Time,” and “Feel A Whole Lot Better.” He departed the band in 1966 followed by Crosby in 1967.

After an appearance with Stephen Stills at the Monterey Pop Festival, Crosby helped form the Rock super group Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1968. 

The early Byrds albums are best known for their cover versions – their take on Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ launched their career, while their second album was named for Pete Seeger’s biblical ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ While Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, and Chris Hillman would write strong material for The Byrds later, the one Byrd who was an accomplished writer from the beginning was Gene Clark.

Due to group infighting in the band, Clark was limited to only three songs on their second album,Turn! Turn! Turn!This meant that the excellent ‘She Don’t About Time’ was relegated to b-side status, backing the title track. It’s one of my favourite Clark songs for The Byrds. For me the song’s most startling feature is McGuinn’s lift of Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’ for the guitar solo, and how seamlessly it fits in. The song inspired George Harrison to write The Beatles’ ‘If I Needed Someone’.

As a Byrds fan, it took me a while to get to Clark’s solo career, but it’s often excellent please check out the records like No Other and White Light both are very strong.

As a bonus feature, here’s another strong Byrds song that never made it onto a studio album. David Crosby’s non-album single ‘Lady Friend’ was released in 1967. It’s an interesting spin on The Byrds’ usual sound, with the harmonies and McGuinn guitar the group were known for, but also a brass arrangement. It failed on the charts, and was never included on a studio album.