If you had a 45 of “Mr. Tambourine Man” back in the day, then you probably flipped it over and heard our feature song. Or maybe like me you had the LP. Either way, this has got to be one of the sweetest, not to mention most under-appreciated, love songs of the era, written by Byrds member, Gene Clark. I decided that a song as affectionate as this just had to have been inspired by a real person, and I was going to try and find out who she was. I was sure that there would be scads for info and/or gossip and/or speculation out there on the W³. Imagine my surprise when I didn’t find any! At least not readily. So I decided to ramp it up and take my research to The Next Level (which consisted of making more coffee, relaxing, and then emailing an old friend in Toronto who is my go-to person about The Byrds). Here’s what I learned from his reply.
This song, like so many of the good vintage ones, is backed by the famous session musicians known as “Wrecking Crew, ” in this case Leon Russell on keyboards (see my June 28/08 post) and Hal Blaine on drums (who is also responsible for the percussion on the Beach Boys hit, “Don’t Worry Baby” and is therefore a total Drum God as far as I’m concerned). Well, okay, I’m glad to know that bit of info, but what about the girl? I read on. It turns out that back in the 60s, Gene Clark was a regular songwriting machine. He could turn out a couple dozen songs a week when he was on a roll. Of course, they weren’t all as good as this one or “8 Miles High.” The word among those in the know is that he would write about one good one per girlfriend. That could still be a lot of good ones, given the attraction young ladies have to musicians. Anyway, just as I felt we were getting somewhere, the trail went stone cold. Sorry I wasn’t able to come up with any names for you. Maybe we’ll hear from somebody out there in the Blogiverse who has the answer. Or a good guess. Or a wild guess. I’m up for anything.
Meanwhile, in looking for a YouTube vid for this song, I made the happy discovery of what has to be the YT resident expert on Byrds footage. Be sure to check out the rest of his channel. And now, without further ado, here’s our feature song:
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.