Saturday, June 30, 2012

But then she jumps off the edge, me holding on

My trip through the sonic wonderland of the Byrds comes to an end today with a single from very late in their career.  By the time of 1970's "Untitled" Roger McGuinn was trucking along as the only original member, still putting out new LPs every ten months or so.  The Byrds sound of old was long gone with the exception of this one amazing epic song.  Chestnut Mare was a left over from the aborted county rock musical Gene Tryp.  A modern day retelling of Peer Gynt, the few nuggets that survive are easily the best music the late period Byrds would produce.  Strangely enough this was a big hit single in the UK, but totally ignored in the US.   What with its odd lyrics referring to the wild mare as the object of an all consuming quest, it might have been just too odd for domestic consumption.  But McGuinn recaptured that classic Byrds sound, augmented by white lightning guitar runs by lead guitarist Clarence White and a middle section so lovely and antique that it could have come from a 16th century madrigal.   For me the goosebumps appear early and often, with the his voice climbing at the end of the chorus

and we'll be friends for life
she'll be just like a wife

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