Thursday, April 09, 2009

Fun With Downloads: B-Sides of the Gods

From the deluxe CD reissue of their 1967 masterpiece Younger Than Yesterday (and the B-side of their epochal flop single "Lady Friend"), please enjoy The Byrds' "Old John Robertson."

Ah, those guitars, those harmonies, that genuinely poignant lyric, and that phase-shifted string quartet in the all adds up to absolutely gorgeous pop perfection. And brought in at just under two minutes, which makes it even more remarkable.

You can download it HERE. As always, if the authorization has expired by the time you get there, just e-mail me blah blah blah.

And incidentally, after the song ends keep listening for another ten seconds or so until the hidden bonus track begins. It's a three-guitar instrumental -- Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman and David Crosby, 'natch -- with all concerned apparently jamming away on a lovely, somewhat contemplative folkie riff, not quite raga-ish but vaguely mid-Eastern sounding.

The first time I noticed it on the CD, I remember thinking "Nice, but what's the point?" A few months later, I bumped into Bob Irwin, who produced the reissue, and asked him about it. Turns out that it was played backwards for the guitar effects track on "Mind Gardens," the David Crosby song that everybody but Crosby has since conceded is the one bummer on Younger Than Yesterday.

In any event, when you hear it, you'll realize that the Byrds didn't just invent folk rock, jazz rock and country rock: They also invented New Age.

Don't hold it against them, obviously.


Anonymous said...

I remember you playing this for me when it came out and rushing out to get my own copy which was not easy since it was not a hit and thus not available at the E J Korvettes record dept.

The A side was a perfect example of why the mid to late sixties was my golden age of the rock & roll single! The B side was better then 90% of the A sides of most the singles that year.

The single mix of Old John Robertson is the unphased version of the song which I always preferred to the album's phased version. Notorious Byrd Brothers has always been my favorite Byrds album from one of my favorite musical catalogs ever.

The hidden track is lovely. I had forgotten it existed, thanks for rediscovering it.


Gummo said...

Those harmonies! Those guitars!

I've loved a lot of music since, but tracks like this demonstrate why I always end up going back to the 1960s for my musical fix.

Is it really objectively the best rock ever or is it just that it's the music of my formative years? Who knows, who cares. So much lovely stuff. And an underlying attitude of wide-eyed optimism in even the bleakest songs that hasn't existed since.

Sal Nunziato said...

Thanks! Everyone should wake up to The Byrds. It truly doesn't get better than this...'cept maybe "Lady Friend," which on certain days is my favorite song EVAH!!

Wendy said...

Is it really objectively the best rock ever or is it just that it's the music of my formative years?

The former, afaic.

steve simels said...

Actually, I believe Homer Simpson observed that "everybody knows that rock achieved perfection in 1973."

Anonymous said...

1973 the year of "The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle". Homer Simpson might be right!


PS Sal, you're so right about Lady Friend.