Tuesday, January 30, 2018


For me this was always the consummate Byrds track, given as it is one of the earliest outriders, 1966, for their later more overt country influences. Undoubtedly a yee-haw hayride of a tune, yet coupled with, literally, spaced out lyrics, it was ideal for the time; the Byrds still in their first flight of success, together with  the race for the moon being in full pelt. Too 'and western' for the UK charts it bombed in my home-land, but did better at home, no little assistance coming from the phased psychedelia of the instrumental middle 8. Indeed it is still argued as to whether it was forerunner more of psychedelia or of country-rock. Both, say I.

The video represents it's first airing, on the Smother Brothers Show, with a 4 member band, the legendary rotating door of this band already in full swing. Whilst writer of the song and singer Jim (later Roger) McGuinn is clearly still present, along with Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke, on 12-string rickenbacker, bass and drums respectively, David Crosby is conspicuously absent for the first time. Especially as he was, arguably, the biggest space cadet and sci-fi freak in the band. And Gene Clark, in or out of the band depending on whether there was a plane trip expected, and who was nominally only a supporting musician for the recording, is there, pretending to play Crosby's guitar. It seems certain his is the key second voice in the harmony however, miming though they all are. A memorable tale from the time was that the band famously took out a million dollar insurance policy, with Lloyds of London, against being abducted by aliens. They didn't of course. And weren't. Although, with Jim to Roger, who's to say?

It remained a staple of live performances over the years, as members came and went, McGuinn the sole staple, but the style of the song fitting well with the directions driven by later members Gram Parsons and Clarence White. There is a nice video filmed in the desert featuring the former, but with the original recording still the one playing. Various reunions of the earlier line-up also featured it, as have various off-shoots of the original band, notably the equivalently ever changing Flying Burrito Brothers, who probably featured every other living Byrd, McGuinn apart, at some stage. McGuinn also trots it out at the drop of a hat, it often being the song chosen should he make a guest appearance, as he here does with Wilco.

Do the time warp here

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