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