We continue to look back at the music of 50 years ago….
By 1971, they were no longer the hits and genres of the ’60s. The Byrds, who developed a sound that would be branded as folk-rock and then released the country-rock LP “Sweethearts of the Rodeo” became tired. Although still popular on tour, the two albums released in 1971 were not well received. “Byrdmaniax” broke down and sold out quickly over the summer after producer Terry Melcher, with no knowledge of the band, scrapped gospel choir and string production after the event. So in a quick five-day period in July, while on tour in the UK, the band entered the studio and cut the tunes that would become the LP “Farther Along”, released in November.
The band at that time consisted of Roger McGuinn, Skip Battin, Gene Parsons and the great guitarist Clarence White.
These folks produced the record themselves, and to escape criticism about the final record, it was mostly live-streamed in the studio for a softer sound. It has its moments.
Personally, I like the harmony in “Lazy Waters” and the bluegrass instrument “Bristol Steam Convention Blues”. “Bugler” is one of the better songs about a dog, and McGuinn’s “Tiffany Queen” is a prime example of Chuck Berry meeting Bob Dylan. They also do a great version of the bluegrass/gospel classic “Farther Along” that has been watched by tons of people from Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson to Dolly, Linda and Emmy Lou. Former Byrd Gram Parsons (not related to Gene) also sang it with the Flying Burrito Brothers.
A few other interesting highlights…. A cover of The Fiestas .’s 50s cut “So Fine”
The song “American National Pastime” rekindled my memory as I played it this week. I knew I hadn’t heard the song in 50 years, but I immediately remembered hearing it on my little transistor radio, so at least one of the local radio stations, WIFC or WRIG, played it. song of the day. It was briefly blocked by the record company, possibly due to pressure from Coca-Cola and the government for its “subversive” themes… lol…. I bet you will miss it too… ..
This is the last Byrds LP with this lineup, and we should take a moment to mention Clarence White, one of the best country pickers around and was killed by a drunk driver while driving. Loading his gear in the car outside an LA club in 1973 Gram Parsons and Bernie Leadon sang Farther Along at White’s funeral. White, played a different-sounding guitar because of something called a Stringbender “… I’ll let Marty Stuart, who currently owns that guitar, explain…
Farther Along isn’t a great LP… .but it’s definitely better than “Byrdmanix” and feels like an iconic group ending coda. McGuinn would move into solo activities although the original Byrds members would reunite for an LP in 1973.
I’m taking a few days off…so the next music blog is coming up on Monday.
https://wsau.com/2021/12/08/nearing-the-end/ Coming to an end