Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Byrds: My Back Pages

For our Thirty Something Thursday, we reach back into the vaults for a cover of a Bob Dylan song recorded by The Byrds in December 1966. It was last Top 40 single for The Byrds and it peaked at #30 during the spring of 1967. While The Byrds had previously recorded seven Dylan songs, they hadn’t considered recording “My Back Pages” until the suggestion came from their former producer/manager, Jim Dickson, who had been recently fired by the band.

According to Roger McGuinn, who sang lead and played the lead electric 12-string guitar, he was stopped at a traffic light in LA when Dickson pulled up alongside him and motioned for McGuinn to roll down his window. He did and Dickson yelled, “Hey, you ought to record Dylan’s ‘My Back Pages.’” McGuinn thanked him, the light changed, and he drove home to learn the song.

Not all of The Byrds, now a quartet since Gene Clark had left, were enthused by the idea of doing another cover – this was a perennial complaint of David Crosby who felt that stylistically they were regressing. It is interesting to note that Crosby’s longtime singing partner, Graham Nash, would leave The Hollies because of their band’s decision to record the album, “Hollies Sing Dylan” – an album that also featured “My Back Pages.”

The song’s most famous line, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now” was the inspiration for the band’s fourth LP: “Younger than Yesterday.”

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