So you want to be a Rock N Roll star …
The Byrds were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple lineup changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn (known as Jim McGuinn until mid-1967) remaining the sole consistent member. Although they only managed to attain the huge commercial success of contemporaries like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones for a short period in the mid-1960s, the Byrds are today considered by critics to be nearly as influential as those bands. Their signature blend of clear harmony singing and McGuinn’s jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar was “absorbed into the vocabulary of rock” and has continued to be influential.
Initially, the band pioneered the musical genre of folk rock as a popular format in 1965, by melding the influence of the Beatles and other British Invasion bands with contemporary and traditional folk music on their first and second albums, and the hit singles “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!”. As the 1960s progressed, the band was influential in originating psychedelic rock and raga rock, with their song “Eight Miles High” and the albums Fifth Dimension (1966), Younger Than Yesterday (1967) and The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968). They also played a pioneering role in the development of country rock, with the 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo representing their fullest immersion into the genre.
The original five-piece lineup of the Byrds consisted of Jim McGuinn (lead guitar, vocals), Gene Clark (tambourine, vocals), David Crosby (rhythm guitar, vocals), Chris Hillman (bass guitar, vocals), and Michael Clarke (drums). This version of the band was relatively short-lived; by early 1966, Clark had left due to problems associated with anxiety and his increasing isolation within the group. The Byrds continued as a quartet until late 1967, when Crosby and Clarke also departed. McGuinn and Hillman decided to recruit new members, including country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, but by late 1968, Hillman and Parsons had also exited the band. McGuinn elected to rebuild the band’s membership; between 1968 and 1973, he helmed a new incarnation of the Byrds that featured guitarist Clarence White, among others. McGuinn disbanded the then-current lineup in early 1973 to make way for a reunion of the original quintet. The Byrds’ final album was released in March 1973, with the reunited group disbanding later that year.
Several former members of the band went on to successful careers of their own, either as solo artists or as members of such groups as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Desert Rose Band. In 1991, the Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an occasion that saw the five original members performing together for the last time. Gene Clark died of a heart attack later that year, while Michael Clarke died of liver failure in 1993. McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman remain active.
Younger Than Yesterday is the fourth studio album by the American rock band the Byrds and was released on February 6, 1967 on Columbia Records (see 1967 in music). It saw the band continuing to integrate elements of psychedelia and jazz into their music, a process they had begun on their previous album, Fifth Dimension. In addition, the album captured the band and record producer Gary Usher experimenting with new musical textures, including brass instruments, reverse tape effects and an electronic oscillator.
The album also marked the emergence of the band’s bass player Chris Hillman as a talented songwriter and vocalist. Prior to Younger Than Yesterday, Hillman had only received one shared writing credit with the Byrds, but this album saw him credited as the sole composer of four songs and a co-writer of “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”. Byrds expert Tim Connors has remarked that two of Hillman’s compositions on Younger Than Yesterday exhibited country and western influences and thus can be seen as early indicators of the country rock experimentation that would feature—to a greater or lesser degree—on all of the Byrds’ subsequent albums.
Upon release, the album peaked at number 24 on the Billboard Top LPs chart and reached number 37 on the UK Albums Chart. It was preceded by the “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” single in January 1967, which reached the Top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100. Two additional singles taken from the album, “My Back Pages” and “Have You Seen Her Face”, were also moderately successful on the Billboard singles chart. However, none of the singles taken from the album charted in the United Kingdom. Music critics Richie Unterberger and David Fricke have both remarked that although it was largely overlooked by the public at the time of its release, the album’s critical standing has improved over the years and today Younger Than Yesterday is considered one of the Byrds’ best albums. The title of Younger Than Yesterday is derived from the lyrics of “My Back Pages”, a song written by Bob Dylan, which was covered on the album. (wikipedia)
Younger Than Yesterday was somewhat overlooked at the time of its release during an intensely competitive era that found the Byrds on a commercial downslide. Time, however, has shown it to be the most durable of the Byrds’ albums, with the exception of Mr. Tambourine Man. David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, and especially Chris Hillman come into their own as songwriters on an eclectic but focused set blending folk-rock, psychedelia, and early country-rock. The sardonic “So You Want to Be a Rock & Roll Star” was a terrific single; “My Back Pages,” also a small hit, was the last of their classic Dylan covers; “Thoughts and Words,” the flower-power anthem “Renaissance Fair,” “Have You Seen Her Face,” and the bluegrass-tinged “Time Between” are all among their best songs. The jazzy “Everybody’s Been Burned” may be Crosby’s best composition, although his “Mind Gardens” is one of his most excessive. (by Richie Unterberger)
Except the song “Mind Gardens”, this whole album is another flawless masterpiece by The Byrds. All the songs are hook filled and the whole album is very much in the vein of The Beatles’ Revolver – a lot of dreamy songs, backward guitars, avant garde instrumentation and Beatlesque harmonies especially the song “Have You Seen Her Face” – which is very Beatlesque. It also features their next best (after Mr Tambourine Man of course) Dylan cover – My Back Pages. Beautiful singing with jangly guitar tones make it a fresh listen even now. The confessional Everybody’s Been Burned is another major highlight. But still compared to their previous album, I would consider it a tad restrained – the previous album oozed freedom and experimentation where as this one sounds a little restrained overall. Nevertheless, it is a brilliant album and a great release for 1967, which also had so many other iconic albums. (Adithya Paikray)
Michael Clarke (drums)
David Crosby (guitar, vocals)
Chris Hillman (bass, vocals)
Jim McGuinn (vocals, guitar)
Vern Gosdin (guitar)
Hugh Masekela (horns)
Clarence White (guitar)
01. So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star (McGuinn/Hillman) 2.06
02. Have You Seen Her Face (Hillman) 2.41
03. C.T.A. – 102 (McGuinn/Hippard) 2.28
04. Renaissance Fair (Crosby/McGuinn) 1.52
05. Time Between (Hillman) 1.55
06. Everybody’s Been Burned (Crosby) 3.06
07. Thoughts And Words (Hillman) 2.58
08. Mind Gardens (Crosby) 3.19
09. The Byrds My Back Pages (Dylan) 3.09
10. The Girl With No Name (Hillman) 1.50
11. Why (McGuinn/Crosby) 2.47
12 It Happens Each Day (Crosby) 2.46
13. Don’t Make Waves (McGuinn/Hillman) 1.38
14. My Back Pages (Alternate Version) (Dylan) 2.44
15. Mind Gardens (Alternate Version) (Crosby) 3.47
16. Lady Friend (Crosby) 7.40
17. Old John Robertson (Single Version) R. McGuinn, C. Hillman Rate
So you want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star?
Then listen now to what I say
Just get an electric guitar
Then take some time and learn how to play
And with your hair swung right
And your pants too tight
It’s gonna be alright
Then it’s time to go downtown
Where the agent man won’t let you down
Sell your soul to the company
Who are waiting there to sell plasticware
And in a week or two
If you make the charts
The girls’ll tear you apart
The price you paid for your riches and fame
Was it all a strange game?
You’re a little insane
The money, the game and the public acclaim
Don’t forget what you are
You’re a rock ‘n’ roll star