Monday, June 25, 2012

I Should Have Learned to Duck

This is one of those posts where I am not sure what to say, other than that I feel the need to share a song that I consider the high point of the career of a band that I have unbelievably ignored in previous posts.   I was very late discovering the wonders of The Byrds, other than a few of their early  12-string hits such as "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn Turn Turn".   My brother sent me a CD containing all of their LPs (excluding their short-lived reunion), and within a few days I was completely transfixed by the quality and diversity of their 60s output.  The magic exudes from those first five LPs and assorted singles that were produced by the original nucleus of the group. They were blessed with four fine singers, each with a real talent for songwriting, and some amazing instrumental chops to boot.   

By mid 1967 they had not had a top 40 hit since "My Back Pages" in March of the previous year.  Gene Clark was long gone, and David Crosby was months away from departing the group.  And yet the quality of their output was still on an upward path.   Prior to the release of "The Notorious Byrds Brothers" in early 1968, their fifth LP and last of their great masterworks,  they produced a single that to my ears was a pinnacle of 60s pop/rock.   It was clearly radio friendly, with amazing chiming guitar lines, gorgeous harmonies, an instrumental break capped by trumpet volleys, and one of Mr. Crosby's finest melodies.    "Lady Friend" was a culmination of the Byrds sound and deserved a lofty status in their canon.  But like a lot of other great music, it was lost in the sea of other great tunes in mid-67 and sank like a stone on the charts.    Because of internal struggles in the band it was omitted from the following LP, and for years was not available other than on an import "best of" LP.

Here it comes, it looks just like the last wave I drowned in.
Here it comes, and I'm so far from shore.
She's going to go, and take her trinkets.
And I will have to live without her and survive


Who Am Us Anyway? said...

That magic silver mercury sound ...

Mister Pleasant said...

Indeed - never duplicated. IMHO this was their pinnacle.