Saturday, July 12, 2014

Some Just Shapeless Forms

Let's bring this summer's psychedelic party across the water to my home turf.  Easily one of the earliest and most musically adventurous journeys into the realm of otherworldliness.  Written mostly by Gene Clark, with one great line of lyrics provided by David Crosby and IMHO the most amazing guitar work ever committed to vinyl thanks to Roger McGuinn - of course I am referring to Eight Miles High.  Sadly this was to be the Byrds last venture into the US top twenty.

Gene Clark would be gone before the song was released but his stamp is all over the place in the vocal melody and lyrics.   Banned by some radio stations due to its supposed drug influences, a close listen to the lyrics tell me that it is about so much more.  I see it as a poetic reflection on the loneliness of travel through the prism of an outsider.   The novel musical arrangement shows that The Byrds were ahead of the game.  Released in March of 1966, this single beat the Beatles to the psychedelic punch of Revolver by six months.

From Chris Hillman's opening leaping bass line and Crosby's chugging rhythm guitar rise that unmistakable McGuinn twelve string frenzy - all free form jazz and sounding like nothing before (or after).  Every time I hear those gorgeous three part vocal harmonies they put a lump in my throat.

Rain gray town
Known for its sound
In places, small faces abound


Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Aw man, what a great piece of art. I don't think the drug influence was so supposed as it was blatant, but agree wholeheartedly the song is about much more in addition to that. The Doors (i know it's not cool to like them anymore but i caint hep it) got after some of that same feel: "People are strange when you're a stranger -- faces look ugly when you're alone. Women seem wicked when you're unwanted -- streets are uneven when you're down."

Who Am Us Anyway? said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Who Am Us Anyway? said...

I deleted because the capcha thing said i had failed & should try again, & so i did, & then it posted the same thang twice! Stupid free blogger, i want my money back. Oh wait.