Byrds – Mr. Spaceman

After I graduated, I purchased the Byrds Greatest Hits and this one caught my attention immediately. It continued to build my love for the Rickenbacker 12 string electric guitar.

Now, this is some cool hype. The release of the single was accompanied by a spoof press announcement from the Byrds’ co-manager, Eddie Tickner, stating that he had taken out a one-million-dollar insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London against his clients being kidnapped by extraterrestrial visitors.

This song was on their Fifth Dimension album. With this song, you could almost hear Sweetheart of the Rodeo coming around the corner. Mr. Spaceman was written by Roger McGuinn. This was their third album, and it was recorded shortly after Gene Clark left the band. When he left, it left a songwriting hole in the band. McGuinn and David Crosby tried to step up and fill the void, but they still had to have four cover songs on the album.

The album peaked at #24 in the Billboard Album Charts and #27 in the UK in 1966.  Mr. Spaceman peaked at #36 in the Billboard 100.

Despite its country-style backing with a touch of psychedelia…it was called “space rock” in the press. Some critics have said it was one of the earliest examples of country rock.

The first video below has Gram Parsons who didn’t join the band until 2 years after this song was released. It was filmed at the Roman Colosseum while the Byrds were in town to play the first International European Pop Festival in 1968.

In that video, we see original Byrds Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman joined by new members Gram Parsons, Kevin Kelley, and Douglas Dillard.

Roger McGuinn:I was interested in astronomy and the possibility of connecting with extraterrestrial life and I thought that it might work the other way round, if we tried to contact them. I thought that the song being played on the air might be a way of getting through to them. But even if there had been anybody up there listening, they wouldn’t have heard because I found out later that AM airwaves diffuse into space too rapidly.”

The Byrds with Gram Parsons video

Mr. Spaceman

Woke up this morning with light in my eyes
And then realized it was still dark outside
It was a light coming down from the sky
I don’t know who or why

Must be those strangers that come every night
Those saucer shaped lights put people uptight
Leave blue green footprints that glow in the dark
I hope they get home alright

Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along
I won’t do anything wrong
Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along for a ride

Woke up this morning, I was feeling quite weird
Had flies in my beard, my toothpaste was smeared
Over my window, they’d written my name
Said, “So long, we’ll see you again”

Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along
I won’t do anything wrong
Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along for a ride

Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along
I won’t do anything wrong
Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along for a ride

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

26 thoughts on “Byrds – Mr. Spaceman”

  1. As you said, a very countrified song, Sweethearts, was on the way. A friend of mine played in the band out of Fort Worth called “Space Opra,” which makes me wonder if that Byrds song and that tag had anything to do with naming his group. Think I’ll send him an email about this. I have a CD of their greatest hits and that tune is on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a cool name…I like the spelling of it. They never made an album did they? There was a Space Opera band that made an album in the early seventies…but not Opra I don’t think…which I think is cooler.

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      1. Sorry, Max, yes they did make an album in the 70s and I misspelled the name. It is, as you say, “Space Opera.” They had a very “Byrdie” sound, lots of 12 string driven folk country rock stuff. Everyone in the biz thought they were from Canada, and it floored the critics when they discovered the band members were all from Fort Worth Texas. The lead guitar player is a friend of mine from elementary school in Fort Worth. His name is David Bullock and is still active in a solo role. His other bandmates have passed on. I have written about him in the past, he was part of our neighborhood gang of kids that attended George Clark Elementary. I haven’t seen him in a while. He did attend a few of our live shows some years back.

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      2. Phil…I was looking for older power pop bands a while back…their name came up on a forum and I listened to them. They are not power pop but lush big huge country rock that I loved. The sound they got blew me away. I had a draft with one of their songs called Over and Over…I just haven’t finished it. I can’t believe you grew up with him…That is great.

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  2. Roger McGuinn writing a song so ETs would descend to earth and then realizing they wouldn’t be able to hear the tune because AM airwaves diffuse into space too quickly to me sounds a bit like he may have been eight miles high on some controlled substance!😆

    That being said, I love how the song sounds. It’s funny the press called it “space rock.” Well, I suppose the real space rock genre would only start taking off a few years later…

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  3. I guess it is possible for there to be some good aliens out there, but mostly we hear about the bad ones. That line, “Woke up this morning, I was feeling quite weird Had flies in my beard”, reminds me of when I slept on the sidewalk in Jersey City to get tickets for the Grateful Dead at Roosevelt Stadium and there were flies all over my face when I woke up.

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    1. That is why it surprised me a little that they made a miming video to this song two years later. Yes he did spur that love of country on…including the Stones also.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. That is awesome Mitch… There is nothing I like better in popular music than the 12-string Rick… I have to ask…how did you manage to get that pick guard signed?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t “manage to” actually. Years after I sold my old Rick (wish I hadn’t!), I was in a friend’s music room, spotted it, and asked if it was real. It was (he’d gotten it signed after a concert). Amazingly, he gave it to me on the spot!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice song, love that jangle country-rock sound! Tough to top Mitch’s comment though…how cool is that?!
    Hope you made it home ahead of the weather. Supposed to be freezing rain starting here about this time tomorrow…already decided we aren’t going anywhere Thursday if temp stays below freezing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just made it home a few minutes ago. The interstates are terrible here Dave. I was telling Lisa that potholes are everywhere and I just lost a hubcap lol. It has been the temps going up and down.
      I’ve heard about that…oh yea…when it snows…Max stays home….or ice…but snow sounds cooler.
      Mitch has something really cool!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like flying with The Byrds. They created so many truly celestial tunes. Three Miles High goes hand and hand with this one. My heart lurched when I saw Gram in there. Crosby was looking pretty dapper in that 2nd video.

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