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Byrds - Every Album, Every Song

  by Lisa Torem

published: 4 / 5 / 2024

Byrds - Every Album, Every Song


In her 'Raging Pages' book column Lisa Torem reflects on Andy McArthur's new book 'The Byrds: Every Album, Every Song'.

According to the author, "The Byrds are the sound of subversive history being made, and their wingspan hanging over popular music is so enormous that it's difficult to cover their legacy succinctly." And yet, Andy McArthur has covered that topic, and many others quite well. He gives color and depth to the individual band members, and is forthright, regarding each musician's contributions: be it songwriting, vocalizing and/or laying down an instrumental. As with many other bands of the era, tensions sometimes rose during the climb to success, leaving scars that affected relationships and studio output. While such divisions are noted, they are contextualized within the scope of the works, leaving room for the reader to ponder. In other words, the appraisals are fair-minded, rather than heavy-handed. I was impressed with the way, the author brought across-the-pond influences and predecessors into focus: from Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan, fast-forwarding to Peter Buck, Tom Petty, Wilco, The Smiths and The Lemon Twigs. These inferences harken back from the 1950s to the present time. The "world music" references detailed for the track, 'Eight Miles High' drove home the band's uniqueness. The three co-writers/arrangers Roger McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark, synthesized stylings of American artist John Coltrane with Ravi Shankar raga and psychedelic effects. So, have fun, getting acquainted with the studio work of: Jim (Roger) McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark, featuring eloquent harmonies, jangly effects and sincere themes. You'll be steeped in pop culture splendor along the way.

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