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Batch #2: June 16, 1997

About Thoughts & Words

Thoughts & Words is a place for reader responses to ByrdWatcher. It's analogous to the letter column of a magazine. (Just as all magazines do, ByrdWatcher reserves the right to edit any correspondence, and the right to decide which correspondence to run on this site.) Questions, comments, criticisms and queries are all welcome at Names, handles, and E-mail addresses of correspondents will be published unless the writer asks that they be withheld or leaves them off the message. Looking forward to hearing from you...
This is an archived batch of older submissions to Thoughts and Words. To read a different batch, use the appropriate link below:

1: April 18, 1997

2: June 16, 1997

3: August 5, 1997


Hi ByrdWatchers. This is the second batch of reader reactions to the site. There's a bit of a backlog of letters right now, so if you don't see your comment here, check back again later. I think the backlog will fix itself, as the initial rush of responses has slowed a bit.

Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997 20:45:08 +0000
From: Robert Taylor (
Subject: Guitar tabs

Hello, I'm desperately searching for guitar tabs or sheet music for Byrds songs,. I already saw the small amount of songs that were on the uark site, I'm more interested in the offbeat songs from 67-69. Thanks for any help that you can provide me.

Bob Taylor

Bob, that's a tough one. Chords and lyrics are increasingly rare now that ASCAP, BMI, and other rights owners are cracking down on websites. There are several helpful souls who post their own transcriptions on If you have a specific request, you might try there -- odds are, someone's archiving that stuff privately if not publicly. Aside from the UArk McGuinn site, there is also a German site with some Gram Parsons material. Links to these are all available on the page of Internet Resources. If anyone else has any suggestions, by all means forward them.

Date: Sat, 12 Apr 97 13:15:01 -0400
From: Bob Ostwald (
Subject: Greetings

I just happened upon ByrdWatcher through a link on the page of one of the subscribers (Hans Settler, of a mail list I also subscribe to.

Nice job! Great information on some important bands in my life. Love the Byrds; just snapped up the reissue of Sweetheart. I pretty much melted my copy of the first Buffalo Springfield album into a candy dish by leaving it on the turntable constantly way back then.

I mentioned your page on the mail list, "Postcard2." We've just been having some interesting discussions on FBB there. Given your music interests, you may want to check it out. Note that there are about 550 subscribers to the list. About 50 - 75 post. Many are music professionals: players, music writers, etc. with a deep knowledge of country and more particularly "alternative" or "insurgent country." If you do decide to try it, note that a lot of the badinage is playful jousting, so don't read hostility into the discussions.



P.S. As a Mekon fan, I assume you're familiar with The Waco Brothers?

Hi Bob! As a matter of fact, as I type this, I'm listening to the new Waco Brothers release Cowboy in Flames on Bloodshot Records, the home of the insurgent country movement. I recommend it, especially the tracks sung by Mekon Jon Langford. I also recommend Cowboy Sally, the new EP by fellow Mekon vocalist Sally Timms, also on Bloodshot.

Thanks for plugging ByrdWatcher on Postcard2, which is a valuable resource for those interested in "" or whatever one chooses to call it. I've added your description and subscription info to the Internet Resources page. Postcard2 is sort of a spinoff of Postcard, a mailing list devoted to Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt and Wilco, which is also recommended for fans (and anyone who likes the Byrds should be a fan of those great bands!).

Date: Sun, 13 Apr 1997 12:32:59 +0100
From: Alastair Dickson (adickson@POST.Almac.Co.UK)
Subject: New Byrds Website

I think your webpages are very elegant. I was especially interested in your info on the fringes of the Byrds. I've long been curious about what else Joseph Byrd had done apart from the USA and Field Hippies LPs and Ry Cooder's Jazz LP -- however, with your warning, I'll beware any lps of synth X-mas carols that I might encounter, as these probably lack the deep cynicism of the earlier lps!

I think Love is one area where there could be more on your links to the edges of the Byrds. Perhaps of more relevance to Love fans (who are, by repute, far more numerous in the UK than the USA) than Byrds fans, but there should be entries on both Love in general and Bryan McLean in particular (who, after all, as well as being Byrds roadie, took "Hey Joe" on to Love).

Alastair Dickson
Stirling, Scotland

Thanks for the compliment, Alistair. Don't worry, I'm a big fan of Love, and there will be some coverage of the band when I finally get around to the Byrds history. You're right, though, that they are much better known in the UK. Their masterpiece, Forever Changes (Elektra, 1968) made #24 on the UK charts but only #152 on the US charts, which I believe accounts for their higher profile over there in the years since. You're also right about their Byrds influence, which is particularly strong on their (terrific) first album, Love (Elektra, 1966). The recent "psychedelic" issue of Mojo has a great profile on Love by Barney Hoskyns that you might want to check out.

Oddly enough, I recently stumbled on a used copy of the excellent Rhino 2-CD anthology Love Story for a mere $10. I was quite pleased with my find until I got it home and realized that the booklet was missing. Bummer in the Summer, indeed! By any chance, is there anyone out there who could mail me a photocopy of their booklet? I'd be happy to reimburse you for copying and mailing.

Date: Tue, 15 Apr 1997 9:14:19 -0500
From: Marty Blank (
Subject: Byrds (What Else!)

Dear Tim:

You have done a tremendous job with ByrdWatcher. I've been a fan since 1965 (long live folk rock!). I remember seeing them on the Old Jerry G TV Show (yes, I am a native Clevelander) when he was a DJ on what was then KYW (now WKYC). They had their full contingent of caped dancers. My mind has been blown ever since. Saw them when I was a junior at Kenyon College as well. Clarence could play.

Thinking about trying to see McGuinn some time this summer up around Chicago. I live in Terre Haute, IN, now.

Did want to mention that it occurred to me when I was reading your section on Ballad of Easy Rider (a much underrated album in my opinion) and you discuss Fairport Convention that Fairport did a transcendent version of "Ballad of Easy Rider" that appears on Richard Thompson's Guitar, Vocal compilation. It was to be included on their follow-up to Unhalfbricking, which turned out to be Liege and Lief, so the song was felt not to be right for this collecton of traditional tunes turned rockers.

Anyway, thanks again for your hard work.

Marty Blank

Thanks, Marty! Ah, another of my very favorite bands: Fairport Convention. I always liked their folk rock albums better than their more traditional stuff. Like Love, Fairport and Richard Thompson will eventually have entries in the Related Musicians Chapter. The version of "Ballad" you mention is reason enough to own Guitar, Vocal (Hannibal, 1976).

Date: Sun, 20 Apr 1997 21:52:54 -0500
From: Pat (
Subject: Aahhhh... the Byrds

I have been reading (and reading, and reading) your site and I wish to extend my congratulations for a job very well done (or, by your own account, well under way). This is the finest assemblage of Byrds information that I've seen, on the net or otherwise. The information is plentiful, easy to access, and the writing is authoritative.

I am a Byrds fan, though not a completist. My holdings consist of the Boxed Set, the Sweetheart '97 re-issue, and the Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn, Turn, Turn LPs. My allegiance is somehow stronger to those that preceded them (Beatles, Dylan) and those that carry on (Jayhawks, Son Volt). Particularly Jay Farrar and Son Volt. Not one to play coy about his influences, Jay and company not only cover Dylan ("Going, Going, Gone") on their latest promotional single, but they also do a nice treatment of "Tulsa County," very much a la the Byrds.

Anyway, I'm bookmarking your page and plan to return often. I need help choosing which additional re-issues to pick up. There is a lot of competition in the market place. Next up, First Rays of the New Rising Sun. Aahhhh... Jimi...

Thanks for your time and effort.

Sincerely, Pat

Ahhhh, Son Volt.... The new album is a bit disappointing, but I still love 'em. As for Jimi, keep in mind that his first single was "Hey Joe," a song popularized by David Crosby and the Byrds. (Okay, I know Crosby didn't write it, and I know Hendrix was inspired by Tim Rose, but still...) And what about the cover of his first album? That fisheye lens shot was swiped from Mr. Tambourine Man, of course! So it would only be right to get the Byrds reissues first. (Besides, the Hendrix catalog is reissued every eighteen months.... ) First you need to get Notorious, Younger, and Fifth Dimension. Then, tomorrow, you should probably upgrade your LP copies of the first two releases. Next week, you need to get Ballad of Easy Rider. Then you should get Dr. Byrds, which sounds a lot better now. That's my prescription; others might differ about the order. Thanks for the compliments and keep checking back -- there's lots of cool stuff in the pipeline.

Date: Mon, 21 Apr 1997 18:21:02 -0400
From: Bob Kentfield (
Subject: Reissues

I have only picked up two of the reissues (Sweetheart of the Rodeo and Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde). Regarding Sweetheart, and the much-anticipated treatment of the lost GP vocals, my reaction is that Sony did it the only way it could be done, by reissuing the "original" release followed by some alternate versions of a few songs with Gram on vocals. Gram's vocals on the original instrumental tracks, such as was done on the Boxed Set, wouldn't have worked here.

Regarding Dr. Byrds, I think this reissue puts to rest the idea that this was an inferior album. The only inferiority was the producer, Bob Johnston -- he obviously had a very bad day, or week, or career. The music is superb! I thought so when I played the original vinyl release about 2000 times between 1969 and 1981, but I was starting to have doubts, reading all the reviews and hindsight in the last few years. Now I know I was right the first time. The alternate version of "This Wheel's On Fire" ("Version One") is absolutely incredible! The cleaned-up versions of "King Apathy III," "Child of the Universe," etc. are great, too. My only disappointment is that Sony didn't correct the recording level of "Old Blue" - it's still at a lower level than the rest of the songs. But overall, Sony, great job!

Bob, I agree with your take on Sweetheart: Sony had to reissue the album with the same vocals as on the original release. The new Gram vocals add value for those with the Box. Sony might have issued an additional "GP version" of the album, but the financial returns probably wouldn't have justified such an effort. Besides, anyone who cares to can create their own "GP version" on tape.

Dr. Byrds does sound much better, though I still think it's the least impressive of the first eight albums. The reissue neutralizes the sonic problems caused by pressing up new LPs with worn out old masters, leaving only the sonic problems caused by Bob Johnston's poor judgment (e.g., vocals that sound like they're in the bottom of a well). Still, I'm able to hear several of the songs in a new light, including "Old Blue." Bob Irwin deserves kudos for his work on this batch of reissues.

Date: Thu, 24 Apr 1997 15:02:25 +0200
From: Francois Kahn (
Subject: A few friendly observations

I would like to thank you for the Byrds database you have put on the web. I am really impressed by your objectivity and your judgment on their different albums and the clarity of your explanations on the different line-ups. Maybe with a recapitulative table it would be more clear, but I think that the story is such a mess that it is nearly impossible!

Being a fan of Randy Newman, I've noticed that his 12 Songs LP of 1970 features Gene Parsons on drums and Clarence White on guitar. Sail Away also has Parsons, and Chris Ethridge on bass. I've never seen that information in their respective discographies although White's work on some songs is really impressive.

About the live version of "8 Miles High," you say: "And really, in all the history of rock music, has there ever been a good side-long track?" Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde, "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands"? ;-)

Francois Kahn.

Francois, as we say in my country, touché!

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