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Mr Tambourine Man (65)
To download this album via iTunes, click here: The Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man
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Original 1965 album liner notes

The Selections – Tickson Music Co. (BMI) Except Where Noted – Are Followed By Their Publishers And Timings


M. Witmark & Sons (ASCAP)

G. Clark

M. Witmark & Sons (ASCAP)

G. Clark-McGuinn

G. Clark

Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI)


M. Witmark & Sons (ASCAP)

2. I KNEW I’D WANT YOU  2:14
G. Clark

G. Clark-McGuinn

Metric Music Co. (BMI)

M. Witmark & Sons (ASCAP)

World Music, Inc. (ASCAP)

Produced by Terry Melcher

Open Letter to a Friend:
Hey – have you heard the Byrds?  Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man was their first Columbia single record, and it was a hit!  (The way I got the story was that Dylan heard The Byrds’ version, flipped and said nobody could do it as well, and they should record it.)

The Byrds are five guys who’ve been together for about eight months, but collectively have had years of experience.  The leader of the group is Jim McGuinn, who toured for two years with The Chad Mitchell Trio and for a year with Bobby Darin when he had a folk act.  McGuinn’s done a bunch of other things, including writing and playing most of the arrangements for folk artists like Judy Collins.

David Crosby – who calls himself the “troublemaker” of the group because when he does this cute little smiling bit and crinkles his nose, the little girls flip – did the MacDougal Street thing for a while, and has been working as a solo singer-guitarist for five years.

Gene Clark played with The New Christy Minstrels for a little over a year and writes a lot.  In a way, he’s the foundation of the group: unruffled with a kind of Grant Wood-ish, Bonner Springs, Kansas, background.  Chris Hillman, who used to play a lot of Bluegrass mandolin, now plays bass guitar with the group.  (I’m told he plays John Coltrane solos on the mandolin – does that wake you up?)  Mike Clark, the drummer, is, well, he’s Mike Clark – happy, dedicated, whose gods are drummers Joe Morello and Elvin Jones.

That’s who they are, but what they are is special.  Aside from singing Dylan’s tunes better than anyone I’ve heard, they’re taking the entire field in a new direction – and it’s a direction that the public has been “burstingly” ready for: playing the new American music in an exciting way.

Leader McGuinn says: “What I’m doing now is a continuation of my love for music.  Superficially, the form may have changed slightly, but the essence is the same.  In other words, the harmonies – fourths, fifths – are the same, as well as the kinds of rhythms that are used and the chord changes.  The instrumentation is changing somewhat to meet the nuclear expansion and jet age.  I used to like folk music, just straight folk music without electric guitar, drums and bass.  I think that although the folk instruments are changing, it’s still folk music.  Actually, you can call it whatever you like.”

Of the English rock and roll groups he says: “They’re a new package, a new presentation of music in which music finds a new form.  Life is the same thing; it’s just going through different manifestations – and music is life.  We sent something over there and they’re echoing it back to us with a slightly different flavor because they’re different people.  And now we can take what they gave us and echo it back to them with something else, another flavor added.  There’s an international music coming out; it’s kind of like halvah, you know, it has all these ingredients: it has Latin and blues and jazz flavors, Anglo-Saxon church music, Negro church music.  It has a lot of different forms.”

Of changing musical tastes Jim says: “I think the difference is in the mechanical sounds of our time.  Like the sound of the airplane in the Forties was a rrrrrrrroooooaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh sound and Sinatra and other people sang like that with those sort of overtones.  Now we’ve got the krrrriiiisssssssshhhhhhhh jet sound, and the kids are singing up in there now.  It’s the mechanical sounds of the era: the sounds are different and so the music is different.  I trust everything will turn out all right.”

I asked a couple of fans why they dug The Byrds.  Here’s one answer:

“They’re bubbly and high and fast.  They’re rakish and raffish; there’s a certain amount of irony in what they do; they’re orange and green and yellow and near.”

Got that?  Here’s another one:

“They play things no other group does.  The music should have a strong beat, and the stronger the beat the stronger the emotions that can come out.  Well, The Byrds play with a lot of emotion, but they do one more thing: they put true meaning across.”

Their first nightclub appearance drew a rave review from “Daily Variety” which contained such Variety-ese as “Biz should perk once word is out, The Byrds, in for a week, are in full flight” and “At last – a rock ‘n’ roll group that’s considerate of the listener as well as the gyrating, beat-happy terper.”

The Byrds are a lot of things, with people filling in all kinds of reasons why they’re special.  The super-hippies find in them a perfect opportunity to trip out, to forget they’re super-hippies.  The folk singers flip because The Byrds have found a way to get to the beauty, the poetry, the love that’s in the best of what’s called folk – and they’ve found a way to get it onto Top Forty radio.

The rock-and-roll musicians – Major Lance, Little Richard, teen-types Sonny and Cher, and a few others – made it into Ciro’s in Hollywood when The Byrds were there, and they dug that something new was happening.  And Jackie DeShannon dug the way they did her tunes; Mary Travers was beautiful dancing to Mr. Tambourine Man.  Judy Henske, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Barry McGuire and a bunch of other New Christy Minstrels all became Byrd watchers.  Then there were Lloyd Thaxton, Mitch Reid (and Mitch was one of four disc jockeys who unanimously picked the Mr. Tambourine Man single on KFWB in Los Angeles), a great-looking chick named Mary Hughes, and, of course, the “in” crowd’s method-actor comer, Michael Pollard.  And L.A.’s pop art crowd, too, and a flippy guy named Bobby Dale at KEWB in San Francisco, who was the first disc jockey in the country to play their single.

Art Seidenbaum did a piece on them in the Los Angeles Times, devoting most of the column to great descriptive prose on the audience at Ciro’s (“people who looked like they had just straggled out of Sherwood Forest”).  His most significant line was: “But who can be sure what’s happening?”

There’s a young writer in Los Angeles who is sure.  His name is Paul Jay Robbins and he contributes occasionally to the Los Angeles Free Press, a “Village Voice”-ish weekly.  He wrote: “What The Byrds signify…is a concept deeply applied to unification and empathy and a rich joy of life – together with a positive recognition of the bulbous clusters of sickness around us.  It represents a passing through negative apathy and an approach into involvement… Dancing with The Byrds becomes a mystic loss of ego and tangibility; you become pure energy some place between sound and motion and the involvement is total.”  (Like the girl said, they’re orange and green and yellow and near.  Hmm.)

Besides Mr. Tambourine Man, the other Dylan tunes they do are All I Really Want To Do, Chimes Of Freedom and Spanish Harlem Incident.  Lately, when they do Chimes in a club, McGuinn announces: “We’d like to dedicate this next song to Donovan.”  We’ll Meet Again they dedicate to Peter Sellers, Slim Pickins and Stanley Kubrick.  The Bells Of Rhymney is dedicated to Pete Seeger.  Initially, you get a great shock hearing this song about a Welsh mine disaster being sung this way, as you watch a few dozen people doing the twistfrugwatusijerk and the endless, nameless variations.  But soon you see how right it is as you see the words become the thoughts of people who would never have heard those words from any other source.  Jackie DeShannon wrote Don’t Doubt Yourself, Babe.  Tunes in the album written by Gene Clark: I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better, Here Without You, I Knew I’d Want You, and in collaboration with Jim McGuinn: You Won’t Have To Cry and It’s No Use.

There’s a new thing happening, and it probably started with Bob Dylan.  He gave the audience a new vocabulary, a new set of symbols to fit the feelings exploding in and around them.  The Byrds take his words and put them in the framework of the beat, and make imperative the meaning of those words.  And there’s an unseen drive, a soaring motion to their sound that makes it compelling, almost hypnotic sometimes.  And when you listen, hear through the sound to the joy that propels it.  I hope you enjoy the record and, as Jim McGuinn says, I trust everything will turn out all right.


Billy James

The Byrds National Fan Club
Suite 805
9000 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles 69, California

Cover photo: Barry Feinstein

(Bob Dylan visits The Byrds at an in-person performance: Mike Clark, Dave Crosby, Gene Clark, Dylan, Chris Hillman, Jim McGuinn.)

“360 SOUND”

CL 2372

Manufactured by Columbia Records/ CBS, Inc./ 51 W. 52 Street, New York, N.Y. ® “Columbia” Marcas Reg. Printed in U.S.A.

CS 9172

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