Thursday, September 01, 2011

Instrumental Backing Tracks of the Gods (An Occasional Series): Special Meaning of the Universe Edition

From 1966, and what I think is (on balance) the best album The Byrds made in their classic line-up (Gene Clark is actually on it, despite not being in the cover photo) please enjoy what seems to be the final instrumental take of Roger McGuinn's fabulous not-an-acid song "5D."

Sing along, won't you?
Oh, how is it that I could come out to you,
And be still floatin',
And never hit bottom but keep falling through,
Just relaxed and paying attention?

All my two-dimensional boundaries were gone,
I had lost to them badly,
I saw that world crumble and thought I was dead,
But I found my senses still working.

And as I continued to drop through the hole,
I found all surrounding,
To show me that joy innocently is,
Just be quiet and feel it around you.

And I opened my heart to the whole universe,
And I found it was loving,
And I saw the great blunder my teachers had made,
Scientific delirium madness.

I will keep falling as long as I live,
Ah, without ending,
And I will remember the place that is now,
That has ended before the beginning ...

Oh, how is it that I could come out to you,
And be still floatin',
And never hit bottom but keep falling through,
Just relaxed and paying attention?
The actual single/album track fades out about fifteen seconds earlier than this, and of course this lacks Van Dyke Parks' brilliant Hammond organ work on the ending (not to mention the inimitable Byrds harmonies).

But I think this is pretty damn impressive in its own right, if only for the wonderfully live immediacy of the thing. And if anybody ever tells me again that drummer Mike Clarke was the weak link in this band, I swear to God I'm gonna take a hostage.


pete said...

Well, sometimes he was. He does turn the beat around at one point, although maybe that's deliberate. And on some of their records the stiff rhythm section can be blamed on Hillman. I agree about the guitars, though. Beautiful.

Jai Guru Dave said...

What always slayed me, and still does, is when Crosby comes in with that unbelievably transcendent harmony on "still floatin'" in the last verse. There's your reason to keep playing, right there: to hope to someday achieve a moment like that.

steve simels said...

Jai Guru Dave:

I agree on that Crosby harmony -- it's one of the most absolutely perfect and beautiful little moments in all of rock.

Anonymous said...

McGuinn worked the base lick of his solo in this, a kind of sideways version of Sally Goodin, into a pile of other songs (Feel A Whole Lot Better, My Back Pages, Wasn't Born to Follow, Change Is Now, and who knows what else), but it still gets me, because its just perfect. Considering how good his chops were, he was way economical.

Re: Michael Clarke: Totally agree. I just got the Preflyte Sessions and even as a completely rudimentary musician, I think he always brought something to those tracks.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it Hal Blaine drumming on this track?

steve simels said...


Jonathan F. King said...

Totally cool ... and I'm not that big a Byrds fan. Always loved this song, though...and per Steve, I did start to sing along partway through.