1966 German picture sleeve
|Single by The Byrds|
|A-side||"Eight Miles High"|
|Released||March 14, 1966|
|Recorded||January 24 and January 25, 1966|
|Studio||Columbia Studios, Hollywood, CA|
|Songwriter(s)||Jim McGuinn, David Crosby|
|The Byrds singles chronology|
|Song by The Byrds|
|from the album Younger Than Yesterday|
|Released||February 6, 1967|
|Recorded||December 5–8, 1966|
|Studio||Columbia Studios, Hollywood, CA|
|Genre||Psychedelic rock, raga rock|
|Songwriter(s)||Jim McGuinn, David Crosby|
"Why" is a song by the American rock band the Byrds, written by Jim McGuinn and David Crosby and first released as the B-side of the band's "Eight Miles High" single in March 1966.The song was re-recorded in December 1966 and released for a second time as part of the band's Younger Than Yesterday album.
Born from Crosby's fondness for the music of Ravi Shankar, the song was an attempt to assimilate traditional Indian music into a rock and pop format.However, rather than actually using Indian instruments on the song, the band instead used McGuinn's raga-flavored guitar playing to emulate the sound of the sitar. "Why", along with "Eight Miles High", was influential in developing the musical styles of psychedelic rock and raga rock.
The song was written predominantly by David Crosby in late 1965 and was largely inspired by his love of the Indian classical music of Ravi Shankar.Crosby's affection for Indian ragas stemmed from his friendship with the session guitarist Eric Hord, who would often play in a style approximating the drone-like qualities of traditional Indian music. Crosby's love of the genre was further cemented when he was invited by the Byrds' manager, Jim Dickson, to attend a Ravi Shankar recording session at World Pacific Studios in Los Angeles. Dickson later recalled Crosby's reaction to Shankar's music: "When he saw Ravi Shankar, it blew him away. He was all excited. He gets hyper from things like that. It was fun to turn him on to stuff."
Crosby became a vocal advocate of Indian music, and Shankar in particular, often dropping the musician's name in contemporary interviews.During meetings with the Beatles in 1965, Crosby's enthusiasm for Shankar's music began to rub off on the Fab Four and in particular George Harrison, who was enthralled by Crosby's descriptions of Indian scales and the sitar. In his autobiography Long Time Gone, Crosby recalled these meetings with the Beatles and his influence on their subsequent exploration of Indian music: "there are people that tell me I turned him [Harrison] on to Indian music. I know I was turning everybody I met on to Ravi Shankar because I thought that Ravi Shankar and John Coltrane were the two greatest melodic creators on the planet and I think I was probably right."
Crosby's bandmates in the Byrds bore the brunt of his effusive enthusiasm for Indian music and were regularly exposed to Shankar's recordings as a consequence.During the band's November 1965 U.S. tour, Crosby brought a cassette recording of one of Shankar's albums along to alleviate the boredom of traveling from show to show and the music was on constant rotation on the tour bus. The influence of Shankar's music on the band, and in particular on lead guitarist Jim McGuinn, would later find full expression in the music of "Why".
Crosby's original lyrics for the song were a commentary on his mother's dominance during his adolescence and began with the line, "Keep saying no to me since I was a baby."Dickson expressed concern over the suitability of these lyrics, and it was McGuinn who eventually solved the problem, by suggesting that the lyrics be altered to "Keep saying no to her", thus making the song a commentary on a girl whose mother restricted her independence. Talking to the Byrds' biographer Johnny Rogan in 1989, Dickson recalled the events surrounding the lyric change: "When I heard the lyric, I thought it was atrocious. One word changed the whole thing and McGuinn thought it up. It was an inspired thought in a crisis." However, Crosby has disputed this version of events, claiming sole authorship of the song and maintaining that the song's lyrics were written entirely by him and were complete in their finished form prior to recording of the song.
A studio recording of "Why" (along with "Eight Miles High") was first attempted at RCA Studios in Los Angeles on December 22, 1965, but Columbia Records refused to release these recordings because they had not been made at a Columbia-owned studio.The RCA recordings remained unreleased for more than twenty years and were finally issued on the 1987 archival album, Never Before . They were also included on the 1996 Columbia/Legacy CD reissue of the band's Fifth Dimension album. At the insistence of Columbia Records, both "Why" and "Eight Miles High" were re-recorded at Columbia Studios, Hollywood, on January 24 and 25, 1966, under the watchful eye of producer Allen Stanton, and it was these recordings that were included on the single release.
Following its release on the B-side of the "Eight Miles High" single, Crosby chose to revive the song during recording sessions for the Byrds' fourth album, Younger Than Yesterday.Exactly why Crosby insisted on resurrecting the song when there was other, newer original material in reserve has never been adequately explained by the band themselves. However, the band's roadie Jimmi Seiter has stated in an interview that the song was re-recorded because the band were unhappy with the previously released version and because another Crosby-penned song was required in order for the guitarist to have an equal share of writing credits on the album. The group re-recorded the song between December 5 and December 8, 1966, with Gary Usher in the producer's chair. Although the song's Indian influences were still present in the re-recorded version, Rogan has commented that they were somewhat watered down when compared to the original B-side recording.
Musically, "Why" is highlighted by McGuinn's whining guitar sound and Chris Hillman's gulping bass guitar playing.The verses have a vaguely Motownesque feel to them, recalling "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas, but the instrumental break features a raga-flavored lead guitar solo by McGuinn that lasts almost a full minute. Author Peter Lavezzoli has remarked that such an explicit juxtaposition of rhythm and blues and Indian modal improvisation was wholly without precedent in popular music at the time.
Although the song broke new ground in rock music with its Indian influences, it didn't actually feature the sound of a sitar.Instead, the song features raga-influenced scales played on McGuinn's twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar, which was run through a custom-made device designed to emulate the sound of a sitar. McGuinn explained this device in a 1977 interview: "We used this special gadget I had made. It was an amplifier from a Philips portable record player and a two-and-a-half inch loudspeaker from a walkie-talkie placed in a wooden cigar box which ran on batteries, and it had such a tremendous sustain that it sounded very much like a sitar."
"Why" was released as the B-side of "Eight Miles High" on March 14, 1966 in the U.S. and May 29, 1966 in the UK.The single reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 24 on the UK Singles Chart. The song was released for a second time, in a completely different version, as part of the Byrds' Younger Than Yesterday album on February 6, 1967.
Along with "Eight Miles High", the song's use of Indian musical modes was immediately influential on the emerging genre of psychedelic rock.In addition, promotional press material for the single was responsible for the naming of the musical subgenre raga rock, a term which was used to describe the song's blend of western rock music and Indian ragas. Many reviews of the single made use of the phrase, but it was journalist Sally Kempton, in her review of the single for The Village Voice , who used the term "raga rock" in print for the very first time.
Although contemporary reviews for the single naturally focused on the A-side, Cash Box singled out the B-side for special praise, stating "'Why' is a pulsating tale concerning lack of personal communication between a couple who are going steady."Additionally, Richard Goldstein in his review of the Younger Than Yesterday album in The Village Voice described "Why" as "a solid hard-rocker." More recently, author Peter Lavezzoli, in his book The Dawn of Indian music in the West has commented that while the Beatles, the Yardbirds, and the Kinks had all used sitars or Indian-style drones as instrumental decoration in their songs, "Why", and to a lesser extent "Eight Miles High", were "the first example[s] of pop songs that were specifically conceived as vehicles for extended [Indian] modal improvisation." Upon the release of "Eight Miles High" and "Why", Indian-influenced, modal improvisation became open territory in rock music and the Byrds found themselves at the forefront of the burgeoning psychedelic and raga rock movements.
In 1967 "Why" was covered by the British psychedelic band Tomorrow, but their version of the song was not released until its inclusion on the 1998 compilation album 50 Minute Technicolor Dream .The song was also recorded as part of a medley with another Byrds' song, "Time Between", by the Mock Turtles for the 1989 Byrds' tribute album, Time Between – A Tribute to The Byrds .
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 remaining the sole consistent member. Although their time as one of the most popular groups in the world only lasted for a short period in the mid-1960s, the Byrds are today considered by critics to be among the most influential rock acts of their era. 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.
Younger Than Yesterday is the fourth album by the American rock band the Byrds and was released on February 6, 1967 on Columbia Records. 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.
Ballad of Easy Rider is the eighth album by the American rock band the Byrds and was released in November 1969 on Columbia Records. The album was named after the song "Ballad of Easy Rider", which had been written by the Byrds' guitarist and singer, Roger McGuinn, as the theme song for the 1969 film, Easy Rider. The title was also chosen in an attempt to capitalize on the commercial success of the film, although the majority of the music on the album had no connection with it. Nonetheless, the association with Easy Rider heightened the Byrds' public profile and resulted in Ballad of Easy Rider becoming the band's highest charting album for two years in the U.S.
The Notorious Byrd Brothers is the fifth album by the American rock band the Byrds, and was released in January 1968, on Columbia Records. The album represents the pinnacle of the Byrds' late-60's musical experimentation, with the band blending together elements of psychedelia, folk rock, country, electronic music, baroque pop, and jazz. With producer Gary Usher, they made extensive use of a number of studio effects and production techniques, including phasing, flanging, and spatial panning. The Byrds also introduced the sound of the pedal steel guitar and the Moog modular synthesizer into their music, making it one of the first LP releases on which the Moog appears.
"Chestnut Mare" is a song by the American rock band the Byrds, written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy during 1969 for a planned country rock musical named Gene Tryp. The musical was never staged and the song was instead released in September 1970 as part of the Byrds' (Untitled) album. It was later issued as a single, peaking at number 121 on the Billboard singles chart and number 19 on the UK Singles Chart.
Turn! Turn! Turn! is the second album by the folk rock band the Byrds and was released in December 1965 on Columbia Records. Like its predecessor, Mr. Tambourine Man, the album epitomized the folk rock genre and continued the band's successful mix of vocal harmony and jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar. The album's lead single and title track, "Turn! Turn! Turn!", is a Pete Seeger adaptation of text from the Book of Ecclesiastes that had previously been arranged in a chamber-folk style by the band's lead guitarist Jim McGuinn, while working with folksinger Judy Collins. The arrangement that McGuinn used for the Byrds' version utilizes the same folk rock style as the band's previous hit singles.
Fifth Dimension is the third album by the American folk rock band the Byrds and was released in July 1966 on Columbia Records. Most of the album was recorded following the February 1966 departure of the band's principal songwriter Gene Clark. In an attempt to compensate for Clark's absence, guitarists Jim McGuinn and David Crosby stepped into the breach and increased their songwriting output. In spite of this, the loss of Clark resulted in an album with a total of four cover versions and an instrumental, which critics have described as "wildly uneven" and "awkward and scattered". However, the album is notable for being the first by the Byrds not to include any songs written by Bob Dylan, whose material had previously been a mainstay of the band's repertoire.
The Byrds' Greatest Hits is the first greatest hits album by the American rock band the Byrds and was released in August 1967 on Columbia Records. It is the top-selling album in the Byrds' catalogue and reached number 6 on the Billboard Top LPs chart, but failed to chart in the UK.
Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde is the seventh album by the American rock band the Byrds and was released in March 1969 on Columbia Records. The album was produced by Bob Johnston and saw the band juxtaposing country rock material with psychedelic rock, giving the album a stylistic split-personality that was alluded to in its title. It was the first album to feature the new band line-up of Clarence White (guitar), Gene Parsons (drums), John York (bass), and founding member Roger McGuinn (guitar). Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde is unique within the band's discography for being the only album on which McGuinn sings the lead vocal on every track.
Farther Along is the eleventh album by the American rock band the Byrds and was released in November 1971 on Columbia Records. For the most part, the album was recorded and produced by the Byrds themselves in London, England, over the course of five work-intensive days in July 1971. It was quickly released as a reaction to the commercial failure of the Byrds' previous album, Byrdmaniax, and as an attempt to stem the criticism that album was receiving in the music press.
Byrds is the twelfth and final studio album by the American rock band the Byrds and was released in March 1973 on Asylum Records. It was recorded as the centerpiece of a reunion among the five original band members: Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke. The last time that all five members had worked together as the Byrds was in 1966, prior to Clark's departure from the band. During the reunion, the current, latter-day lineup of the band continued to make live appearances until February 1973, with McGuinn being the only member common to both versions of the group.
"Eight Miles High" is a song by the American rock band the Byrds, written by Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn, and David Crosby. It was first released as a single on March 14, 1966. Musically influenced by sitar player Ravi Shankar and jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, the song was influential in developing the musical styles of psychedelia and raga rock. Accordingly, critics often cite "Eight Miles High" as being the first bona fide psychedelic rock song, as well as a classic of the counterculture era.
"5D " is a song by the American rock band the Byrds, written by band member Jim McGuinn. It was released as a single in June 1966, and also included as the title track on the Byrds' third album, Fifth Dimension.
"Ballad of Easy Rider" is a song written by Roger McGuinn, with input from Bob Dylan, for the 1969 film, Easy Rider. The song was initially released in August 1969 on the Easy Rider soundtrack album as a Roger McGuinn solo performance. It was later issued in an alternate version as a single by McGuinn's band the Byrds on October 1, 1969. Senior editor for Rolling Stone magazine, David Fricke, has described the song as perfectly capturing the social mood of late 1969 and highlighting "the weary blues and dashed expectations of a decade's worth of social insurrection".
"Triad" is a song written by singer-songwriter David Crosby in 1967 about a ménage à trois, a subject that Byrds biographer Johnny Rogan has noted was perfectly in keeping with the "free love" hippie philosophies of the day.
"It Won't Be Wrong" is a song by the American folk rock band the Byrds, which appeared as the second track on their 1965 album, Turn! Turn! Turn! It was also coupled with the song "Set You Free This Time" for a single release in 1966, resulting in "It Won't Be Wrong" charting at number 63 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was written by Byrds band member Jim McGuinn and his friend Harvey Gerst in 1964.
"Have You Seen Her Face" is a song by the American rock band the Byrds, written by the group's bass player Chris Hillman and included on their 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday.
Preflyte is a compilation album by the American folk rock band the Byrds and was released in July 1969 on Together Records. The album is a collection of demos recorded by the Byrds at World Pacific Studios in Los Angeles during 1964, before the band had signed to Columbia Records and become famous. It includes early demo versions of the songs "Here Without You", "You Won't Have to Cry", "I Knew I'd Want You", and "Mr. Tambourine Man", all of which appeared in re-recorded form on the band's 1965 debut album.
Never Before is a compilation album by the American rock band the Byrds, consisting of previously unreleased outtakes, alternate versions, and rarities. It was initially released by Re-Flyte Records in December 1987 and was subsequently reissued on CD in 1989, with an additional seven bonus tracks.
Kevin Daniel Kelley was an American drummer, best known for his work with the rock bands the Byrds and the Rising Sons. Kelley also played drums for Fever Tree, although it is unknown whether he was an official member of the group or not. Kelley is the cousin of country rock pioneer and ex-member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Chris Hillman.