33 Songs, 1 Hour 33 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Although the 1967 set The Byrds’ Greatest Hits is a great introductory compilation, The Essential Byrds digs deeper into a nest of songs that span 1965 to 1971. Offering a generous 33 tracks, this set seamlessly ranges from the band’s bowl-cut, harmony-laden, 12-stringed folk-rock to the post–Gram Parsons, longhaired country-rock era (which Byrds fans jokingly refer to as The Beards). The Essential Byrds opens with a cover of Bob Dylan’s ode to Bruce Langhorne, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” (Reportedly, The Byrds didn’t even want to cover it at first; it was pushed on them by Columbia Records.) The following “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” can be regarded as one of the first tracks providing a window into the genius songwriting of the late, great Gene Clark. But it’s the psychedelic anthem “Eight Miles High” that shone a light on Roger McGuinn approximating John Coltrane’s modal notes with his 12-string Rickenbacker. And while the jovial “Mr. Spaceman” is thought to be The Byrds' first foray into country-rock, it was the Parsons–penned “Hickory Wind” that changed everything.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Although the 1967 set The Byrds’ Greatest Hits is a great introductory compilation, The Essential Byrds digs deeper into a nest of songs that span 1965 to 1971. Offering a generous 33 tracks, this set seamlessly ranges from the band’s bowl-cut, harmony-laden, 12-stringed folk-rock to the post–Gram Parsons, longhaired country-rock era (which Byrds fans jokingly refer to as The Beards). The Essential Byrds opens with a cover of Bob Dylan’s ode to Bruce Langhorne, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” (Reportedly, The Byrds didn’t even want to cover it at first; it was pushed on them by Columbia Records.) The following “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” can be regarded as one of the first tracks providing a window into the genius songwriting of the late, great Gene Clark. But it’s the psychedelic anthem “Eight Miles High” that shone a light on Roger McGuinn approximating John Coltrane’s modal notes with his 12-string Rickenbacker. And while the jovial “Mr. Spaceman” is thought to be The Byrds' first foray into country-rock, it was the Parsons–penned “Hickory Wind” that changed everything.

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