Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mocking Byrds: Eight Miles High

It’s day four of our Second Week Feature that I call “Mocking Byrds,” as it is a weeklong tribute to songs of The Byrds recorded by other artists. One of the better known singles by The Byrds, it was their only composition to chart in the Top 20 and it peaked at #14 during the spring of 1966. Only two other songs by The Byrds charted higher and were both #1 hits: “Mr. Tambourine Man,” penned by Bob Dylan, and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” – Pete Seeger’s musical interpretation of Ecclesiastes’ third chapter.

Written primarily by Gene Clark, but aided by David Crosby and Roger McGuinn, “Eight Miles High” was influenced by the band’s trip to London in 1965. The song is stellar in that it captures the spirit of Ravi Shankar and John Coltrane – two artists the band was listening while on tour during 1965. The original version appears on their third LP: “Fifth Dimension.”

Today’s cover comes from the husband and wife duo – The Kennedys, who prior to their marriage, were part of Nanci Griffith’s band in 1990s. This version comes from their 2006 album “Songs of the Open Road” and features Maura and Pete using all manner of acoustic and electric guitars and a Rogue electric sitar to bring the “raga rock” sound to fruition.

While The Byrds’ version is my favorite and Golden Earring’s rendition is my second favorite, The Kennedy’s interpretation comes in as a close third. In my book, that’s a pretty good place to be. Pete and Maura Kennedy also perform with The Strangelings and I have included that band’s versions of their renditions of Fairport Convention’s “Matty Groves” and Donovan’s “Season of the Witch.”

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