The Byrds – Ballad of Easy Rider 1969

A Byrds song that is not as remembered as much as their earlier hits. I always liked the smooth opening and it fits very well with the movie.  .

The star and scriptwriter of Easy Rider, Peter Fonda, had wanted Bob Dylan to write the film’s theme song. However, when he approached Dylan, he declined. Instead, Dylan quickly scribbled a lyric fragment on to a napkin, before telling Fonda to give it to Roger McGuinn. Roger took Dylan’s lines turning them into the first verse then expanded upon them with his own lyrical and musical contributions.

The song peaked at #65 in the Billboard 100 in 1969.

When Bob Dylan saw a private screening of Easy Rider and realized that he had been credited as co-writer on its theme song, he telephoned McGuinn and demanded that his name be removed from the credits. It’s believed that Dylan disowned the tune as he hated the film’s ending.

 

From Songfacts

The version of the country-tinged tune used in the film and included on the Easy Rider soundtrack album is McGuinn singing and playing acoustic guitar whilst fellow Byrd Gene Parsons accompanies him on harmonica. The version that The Byrds would later release as a single and include on their Ballad of Easy Rider album is a completely different take performed at a quicker tempo.

Ballad of Easy Rider

The river flows
It flows to the sea
Wherever that river goes
That’s where I want to be

Flow river flow
Let your waters wash down
Take me from this road
To some other town

All he wanted
Was to be free
And that’s the way
It turned out to be

Flow river flow
Let your waters wash down
Take me from this road
To some other town

Flow river flow
Past the shaded tree
Go river, go
Go to the sea
Flow to the sea

The river flows
It flows to the sea
Wherever that river goes
That’s where I want to be

Flow river flow
Let your waters wash down
Take me from this road
To some other town

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

26 thoughts on “The Byrds – Ballad of Easy Rider 1969”

  1. Don’t know that tune, believe it or not never seen the movie. Pretty decent and mellow tune – very diff than ‘Born to Be wild.” Kudos to Dylan on having the integrity if he really disliked it… not often you hear of someone demanding to have their name taken OFF the credits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know…I think he liked the song but just not the movie. It does have a different kind of ending but probably true to life.

      Like

      1. Yes, I’ve seen it. It’s a great movie. Dennis Hopper is an underappreciated actor. I love Jack Nicholson’s character in this one. Peter Fonda is even good in it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I *love* the movie, but I *hate* the end as much as I love the rest of it. Anyone who would kill or harm another because they are different than themselves needs to be locked up for life. I really think too many of the wrong people are locked behind bars, which means there is no room for the ones who really need to be locked up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If I’ve ever seen this movie, I don’t remember. Don’t remember the song, either. Geez…

    I saw all three of these posts in my panel (Reader). The first two said it was Private and I needed a password to see it. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a good movie. You go in knowing it is a time piece but it’s good. Jack N is great in it also.

      Great…I can’t believe that!

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      1. I could have SWORN…I just saw a post of yours called… A Toothache Can Kill You….or something like that…it has vanished now…or was it just me seeing things?

        Like

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