The Byrds – Turn! Turn! Turn!

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

In my dreams, I believe this album title was the inspiration for the name of 90’s R&B vocal group Tony! Toni! Toné! I prefer to keep my dreams small. This was the last proper Byrds album with Gene Clark (though he stuck around to co-write and record “Eight Miles High,” contributed to The Notorious Byrd Brothers, and then returned for a reunion album in the ’70s), and that’s a pity, as he was clearly a talented songwriter. The next three Byrds albums – Fifth Dimension, Younger Than Yesterday, and The Notorious Byrd Brothers – are somewhat spotty, and that can’t be an accident. The next truly great Byrds album is Sweetheart of the Rodeo, but the main point is that while McGuinn’s 12-string is what people tend to associate with the Byrds (appropriately), the real story of the band is Gene Clark. Clark died in 1991 at the age of 46.

What I Think of This Album

This album proved that the Byrds could literally sing the Bible and make it sound good. Overall, not as strong as their debut and I would argue not an essential Byrds album, it is still pretty good. Again, over half the album is covers (though the bonus tracks prove it didn’t have to be this way).

Jim McGuinn had been in Judy Collins’s band and had previously arranged Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!” for her, so he repurposed that arrangement, plugged in his 12-string, and had the Byrds add their vocals – the result was magic. The band dipped back into the Dylan songbook for then-unreleased  “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” The former got a soulful and rich treatment (with a prominent bass part from Chris Hillman), while the latter received an oddly bloodless makeover. The other cover of note is “Satisfied Mind,” a country song that portended the future for the band but otherwise is nothing special. McGuinn also adapted a traditional folk song to pay tribute to JFK on “He Was a Friend of Mine.” The album closes with a cover of “Oh! Susanah,” which is dumb.

As for the originals, it was pretty much the Gene Clark show again. His wordy, twisty “Set You Free” is down and blue, with a nice harmonica part at the end. There is a psychedelic, Eastern element to “The World Turns All Around Her,” an all-around excellent song.” The melody of “If You’re Gone” is not something I care for, but the arrangement – with the unusual harmony creating an otherworldly drone in the background – is pretty cool. McGuinn brought an old song of his, “It Won’t Be Wrong,” which is fine – with some nice rhythmic changes – and he and David Crosby collaborated on the very good “Wait and See.”

The extra tracks are great, and employed correctly, could have elevated this album to a status closer to that of the debut. Clark song “The Day Walk (Never Before)” was very good, with a propulsive, soul-inspired bass part and a nice vocal melody. More importantly, the outstanding “She Don’t Care About Time” was criminally relegated to a B-side, when it would have arguably been the highlight of the album; the harmonies are great, McGuinn’s guitar is perfect, the melody and lyrics are first-rate, and those tom rolls are key. Apparently, the rest of the band was jealous of the prolific Clark’s extra income as the group’s primary songwriter, so they just left his songs off the albums. The rest of the bonus tracks are a superior version of “Time They Are A-Changin’” and other album tracks, another version of both “She Don’t Care About Time” (faster, with an awesome harmonica part) and “The World Turns All Around Her,” another Dylan cover (“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”), and Crosby’s pretty good instrumental  “Stranger In a Strange Land.”

The Best Thing About This Album

Technically, it’s “The World Turns All Around Her,” but it really should be “She Don’t Care About Time.”

Release Date

December, 1965

The Cover Art

There is a LOT of blue on this cover; I feel like they could have planned this better. Also, what the fuck is that tunic that Crosby is wearing?

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