Byrds – Goin’ Back

Before I start…I’ll be off and on this weekend because I’m traveling to Memphis to see Big E’s house…Graceland… for the 3rd time.

Power pop can be traced back to George Harrison and Roger McGuinn’s 12-string Rickenbackers. This was right before the Byrds dived into country rock with Graham Parsons and made the Sweethearts of the Rodeo album.

Byrds - The Notorious Byrd Brothers

The Notorious Byrd Brothers cover controversy. It has been said that McGuinn or the other Byrds wanted to insult the fired David Crosby by placing a horse in the stall beside them in his place. McGuinn had the best response to this… “If we had intended to do that, we would have turned the horse around.”

The album (The Notorious Byrd Brothers) marked Gene Clark’s brief return to the band. He had left The Byrds the year before and made a solo album that was critically praised but failed commercially. His supposedly fear of flying had a huge impact. After the album was released he toured with the band briefly but after an anxiety attack in Minneapolis, he quit.

David Crosby was fired by McGuinn and Hillman before the album was finished. He was upset at the rest of the band for finishing one of his songs and using it among many things. Crosby was not in favor of doing this song written by “two Brill Building writers” and they should only record their original music. They bickered back and forth and Crosby was fired. Crosby went on to fame in Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Parsons and Hillman would, later on, form the Flying Burrito Brothers. 

Crosby also fought with drummer Michael Clarke and Clarke soon quit before it was finished. This left McGuinn and Hillman and that is when they got Gene Clark to take Crosby’s place which lasted only 3 weeks.

Clarence White, the future Byrd the following year, helped out on the album with pedal steel guitar. Goin’ Back was a Goffin and King song. The first version/hit was by Dusty Springfield and it peaked at #10 in the UK in 1966.

The single was released a few months before The Notorious Byrd Brothers. Goin’ Back peaked at #89 on the Billboard 100 in 1967.

Gene Clark:  “The fear of flying wasn’t why I quit the group, When you’re 19, 20 years old and you start on a fantasy, then six months later you’re hanging out with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, it can cause you to become a little disturbed. The reason for the group’s breakup was much less the fear of flying than it was we were too young to handle the amount of success that was thrown at us all at once.”

David Crosby: “I started going up and hanging out with Roger and Gene, we would sing together at The Troubadour, Gene was from a family of 11 from somewhere like Mississippi, he had no clue what the rules were, so he would just do it in a way that somebody else hadn’t thought of. And Roger was so smart, who listened to and go, ‘Well, we could just do this and this to it,’ and boom, it’s a record! I almost hate giving Roger as much credit as I do, but you can’t deny it – he was a moving force behind that band, and he did create the arrangements for the songs.”

Photographer Gus Webster: I get asked about this cover shot for The Byrds all the time. This was shot a couple of years after I first worked for them. The picture was done up in [Topanga] Canyon. The group was going through changes. I got a call to shoot the album cover. They wanted to go out to the country, since their first album cover was shot in a studio.

So I found this abandoned barn with four open windows. There was a horse in the field. I put each one of the guys in the windows. And in the last window I put the horse. I was mistakenly accused of denigrating David Crosby. It wasn’t to replace Crosby, who had been fired; it wasn’t to insult anyone. It was just to balance the composition. It was just a space and a horse — and what an image.”

Goin’ Back

I think I’m goin’ back
To the things I learned so well in my youth,
I think I’m returning to
The days when I was young enough to know the truth

Now there are no games
To only pass the time
No more coloring books,
No Christmas bells to chime
But thinking young and growing older is no sin
And I can play the game of life to win

I can recall a time,
When I wasn’t afraid to reach out to a friend
And now I think I’ve got
A lot more than a skipping rope to lift

Now there’s more to do
Than watch my sailboat glide
Then everyday can be my magic carpet ride
And I can play hide and seek with my fears,
And live my life instead of counting my years

Let everyone debate the true reality,
I’d rather see the world the way it used to be
A little bit of freedom, all we’re left
So catch me if you can
I’m goin’ back

I can recall,
I can remember

I can recall,
I can remember

I can recall,
I can remember

CSN – Just A Song Before I Go

.This is a laid back 70s pop song. I like their music in the early seventies the best but I won’t turn this off if it comes on the radio.

The song peaked at #7 in the Billboard 100 and #10 in Canada in 1977. Their first album was named Crosby, Stills, and Nash but this one was called CSN which is confusing. The album did well helped by this hit. It peaked at #2 in the Billboard Album Charts, #10 in Canada, and #23 in the UK in 1977.

After touring in 1977 and 1978, further work as a group was complicated by Crosby’s increasing dependence on cocaine. Nash’s 1980 Earth & Sky was supposed to be another Crosby-Nash album, but Crosby was not in shape to participate

It surprised me but this was the highest charting song by CSN or CSN&Y.  As Nash tells it in his memoir Wild Life, the guy taking him to the airport was his drug dealer, who said, “I’ll bet you can’t write a song before you go.” Nash then thought, “Hmm… just a song before I go,” and composed it on the spot. I have the exact quote below.

Graham Nash: I’d been on vacation in Hawaii. Leslie Morris was with me, and in an effort to score some grass we met up with a dealer named Spider at his house near the beach. This was around one in the afternoon, and I had a four o’clock flight back to Los Angeles. Spider was a cheeky little bastard. He said, “You’re supposed to be some big-shot songwriter. I bet you can’t write a song before you go.”

“Oh, really,” I said. “How much?”

“A hundred bucks.”

I finished “Just a Song Before I Go” in a little under forty minutes. Turned out to be the biggest hit Crosby, Stills & Nash ever had, on the charts for twenty weeks. The original lyric I’d scribbled on school composition-book paper is currently in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

From Songfacts

Graham Nash wrote this song on a bet. David Crosby explained in the liner notes to their 1991 boxed set: “Graham was a home in Hawaii, about to go off on tour. The guy who was going to take him to the airport said, ‘We’ve got 15 minutes, I’ll bet you can’t write a song in that amount of time.’ Well you don’t smart off to Nash like that, he’ll do it. This is the result.”

Going to the airport and his day of travel were on Nash’s mind, so that’s what he wrote about: “driving me to the airport and to the friendly skies.” The “song before I go” was for his friend who made him the bet.

This was the first single released from the re-formed Crosby, Stills & Nash, and in the US it was the highest-charting song of any iteration of the group. The group’s first album came in 1969, and they won the Best New Artist Grammy Award for that year. In 1970, they added Neil Young and released two albums before taking some time off – they didn’t see the Top 40 from 1971-1976. In this period, the members recorded solo, with Graham Nash and David Crosby teaming up for a 1972 album, and Stephen Stills forming the band Manassas. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young got back together for touring in 1974 and released the 1976 album Wind On The Water. The next year, minus Young, they were Crosby, Stills & Nash again for the first time since 1969, and the CSN album was the result. Following more solo efforts from Stills and Nash, they hit the studio again in 1982 for the Daylight Again album, and reunited with Young for the 1988 effort American Dream. They continued to go back and forth with and without Young in the ’90s. Their law firm-style name made for an unwieldy discography, but we always knew who was in the group.

Just a Song Before I Go

Just a song before I go,
To whom it may concern
Traveling twice the speed of sound
It’s easy to get burned

When the shows were over
We had to get back home,
And when we opened up the door
I had to be alone

She helped me with my suitcase,
She stands before my eyes
Driving me to the airport,
And to the friendly skies

Going through security
I held her for so long
She finally looked at me in love,
And she was gone

Just a song before I go,
A lesson to be learned
Traveling twice the speed of sound
It’s easy to get burned

..