Saturday, June 5, 2010

Three Minute Pop Songs: Gene Clark Edition

Dillard and Clark: Radio Song


Gene Clark: Hear the Wind


Gene Clark: Rain Song


Steve Earle famously said he’d stand on Bob Dylan’s Kitchen table in his cowboy boots and declare Townes Van Zandt the best songwriter ever. Well, I don’t own a pair of cowboy boots but I’m prepared to stand on Bob’s kitchen table in my dirty socks and say Gene Clark had a lot of what Townes had and a bit more of something else. Trying to prove the case when the theme is three minute pop songs is tough; not because Clark couldn’t write a great pop song – no one needs to prove that – but because he was inclined to time them around 2:48, 3:17 or, just to be perverse, 3:05. We miss out on some obvious classics; ‘In a Misty Morning’, ‘I Remember the Railroad’, ‘Polly’, ‘Dragon’s Eye’, all of ‘No Other’ and ‘So Rebellious a Lover’ and that was just his solo career, after he’d made it big with the Byrds. In this post we get to hear three tracks – a whole nine minutes - that may have slipped below the radar.

It’s too bad Gene Clark gets lumped into country rock because it’s questionable whether he was either. Sterling contributions to that genre aside, he crafted great pop songs. The tracks here, Radio Song, Rain Song and Hear the Wind are but humble examples. Listen closely to Radio Song and you hear his early days in the New Christy Minstrels. Tune an ear to Hear the Wind and you’ll catch the budding strains of early 70s FM. As for Rain Song? Imagine the Bee Gees circa 68-69 getting their hands on it; not hard to do. It was a tragedy of Clark’s that after success with the Byrds he never cracked it with an audience that really deserved him.

Guest post by John

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