zondag 28 juni 2015

Byrd Lives: Cult Hero Gene Clark's 21 Best Songs

Byrd Lives: Cult Hero Gene Clark's 21 Best Songs Start 1 OF 22 With some of indie-rock's brightest stars touring in his honor, we pick the former Byrds frontman's essential tracks January 22, 2014 Beginning January 22nd in Philadelphia, members of Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Beach House, the Walkmen and Wye Oak are joining forces to play a series of concerts during which they'll cover Gene Clark's 1974 cult classic solo album No Other in its entirety. Not familiar? You should be. Forty years after the album was released it remains an awe-inspiringly majestic and moving listen. Beach House and Friends Plan Gene Clark Tribute Tour But it also represents only a small sampling of Clark's immense skills. Born in the small town of Tipton, Missouri, in 1944, Clark was a founding member of folk-rock pioneers the Byrds, penning original material for the group before embarking on a solo career that encompassed heavily orchestrated, sadly underappreciated treasures like No Other and sparser, also underappreciated affairs like 1971's folk-focused White Light. Exclusive Listen: Lost Gene Clark Album Classic "Kansas City Southern" For all Clark's songwriting gifts – his music managed the feat of feeling both metaphysical and homespun – the singer-guitarist never found much in the way of solo success, and he struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, dying in 1991 at 46 years old. But his body of work has long found favor among those music fans and musicians who count themselves as seekers. Years before the No Other tour, Clark's songs were covered by Tom Petty, the Eagles, Yo La Tengo and Robert Plant, to name a few. So to celebrate this latest Gene Clark renaissance (a new documentary, The Byrd Who Flew Alone, is also making the festival rounds), we've chosen his 21 finest songs, taken from all eras of his career. "The World Turns All Around Her" Byrd Lives: Cult Hero Gene Clark's 21 Best Songs 3 OF 22 Turn! Turn! Turn!, 1965 While the title track/hit single "Turn! Turn! Turn!" found the Byrds interpolating Pete Seeger and the Book of Ecclesiastes, Clark's "The World Turns All Around Her," from that same album, pivoted on the same verb, using it to convey the tumultuous emotions brought on by being on the wrong side of a breakup. Here, in just over two minutes, love functions as an obsessive, inescapable orbit. "Eight Miles High" Byrd Lives: Cult Hero Gene Clark's 21 Best Songs 4 OF 22 Fifth Dimension, 1966 The last Byrds song Clark had a hand in writing, and also the band's last Top 20 hit, this Clark/Crosby/McGuinn co-write was the group's most ambitious single, with the latter's Rickenbacker 12-string guitar tuned to a higher plane of Ravi Shankar-inspired raga drones and Coltrane-esque modal fire. The wry lyrics, though, are primarily Clark's, and they're appropriately soaring, psychedelic and impressionistic. He left the band the same month as the single was released, citing, somewhat ironically, a fear of flying. Echoes" Byrd Lives: Cult Hero Gene Clark's 21 Best Songs 5 OF 22 Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers, 1967 With help from what might scan as the incoherent assemblage of bluegrass musician Doug Dillard (a future collaborator), country singing duo the Gosdin Brothers, ex-Byrd bandmates and members of the famed Wrecking Crew studio outfit, Gene Clark's debut album somehow managed to finesse a sound that veered from baroque pop to garage rock, country to psychedelia. Sideman extraordinaire Leon Russell added orchestra, woodwinds and harpsichord to "Echoes," and Clark's lyrics attained a Dylan-esque level of abstract romance. Gorgeously enigmatic and musically detailed, the song is a precursor to the grandiose vision Clark later achieved on No Other. Tried So Hard" Byrd Lives: Cult Hero Gene Clark's 21 Best Songs 6 OF 22 Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers, 1967 With future Byrd guitar ace Clarence White providing stinging country licks against a terse garage shuffle, Clark details more heartbreak, his voice breaking just so at the word "tried," even though he also admits "it's not the first break I had." The song was later covered by Fairport Convention, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Yo La Tengo. "So You Say You Lost Your Baby" Byrd Lives: Cult Hero Gene Clark's 21 Best Songs 7 OF 22 Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers, 1967 A Nuggets-worthy slice of jangle, Clark and the Gosdin Brothers harmonize on this gnomic rocker adorned with lyrics of poetic whimsy (see mentions of "moon trolls" and "tabernacle hillsides.") The guitars blare like sirens as strings swoop in from all sides and the drums sound out rifle shots. "With Care From Someone" Byrd Lives: Cult Hero Gene Clark's 21 Best Songs 8 OF 22 The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark, 1968 Clark had already helped found folk-rock with the Byrds when, in 1968, he teamed with fierce banjo picker Doug Dillard to create another genre: newgrass. The two hit upon a glistening formula that melded traditional bluegrass instrumentation and melodic approach with rock amplification and attitude. Musically and harmonically-rooted in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Kentucky, Clark and Dillard sing nevertheless of the cosmic on this rollicking number about new love: "Maybe we'll find/ this time is designed/ for finding the meaning of one." "Why Not Your Baby" Byrd Lives: Cult Hero Gene Clark's 21 Best Songs 9 OF 22 Non-LP single, 1969 Released only as a 45 (later included on the CD reissue of The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark), this single may have stalled on the charts, but it showed Clark at his emotive best, with elements of folk, folk-rock and bluegrass mingling with stunning symphonic strings. "Is this the change of mind that I've been designed for?" he asks, looking for consolation in a heartbreak, which may very well be his own.

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