Monday, December 15, 2008

Cover of the Week 6

The Byrds were one of the most important bands in rock & roll history, with mutual influences flowing two ways between them and Dylan and the Beatles. Without the Byrds there is no Tom Pettty & the Heartbreakers, no REM, nor many other hugely significant bands. In fact, in a documentary about Petty, he is shown on poor-quality home video in an 'early-'90s studio righteously berating and belittling a couple of hapless A&R execs who are messing around with McGuinn's song choices or something. Petty is schooling these guys, asking them rhetorical questions like, "Do you even know who Roger McGuinn is? Do you know what his music means to people?" (Those are not direct quotes -- it has been a while since I have seen it.) It is cringe-worthy but hilarious.

EDIT: Here is the link to the clip, thanks to my friend, Paul, mentioned in the poker post (below), in the context of the newer 2007 documentary, now with hindsight commentary on the episode. The clip was from an earlier doc on him:



The general public, it seems, barely knows the name Roger McGuinn nowadays, never mind the late Gene Clark, the latter of whom wrote and sang some of the band's best and best-known songs, Teenage Fanclub tribute song notwithstanding.

Allmusic.com has a nice bio of Clark that starts off:

Gene Clark will always be best remembered for his two-year stint as a vocalist with the Byrds between 1964 and 1966. A fine legacy to be sure, but the shame of it is that there was far more to Clark's body of work than that; he was a superb songwriter, one of the founding fathers of country-rock, and recorded a number of fine albums with an impressive array of collaborators whose quality far outstripped their modest sales figures.

This is an understatement. For fans of this sort of music, particularly if you are an early REM fan (Stipe's vocal style and timber is extremely close to Clark's), I beseech you to root out some Gene Clark albums. They are not always easy to find, even on the 'net. And the styles veer around from record to record, from stuff that might as well be the Byrds (the Echoes LP), to folk, to straight-up country, to pop and soul, sometimes hitting all of them just right.

My choice for a cover this week is from the Roadmaster LP, which I picked up at a record distribution company in Spain in the early 1990s and have not had much luck, as I recall, finding again. This is a song called "In a Misty Morning."

Please note that this is the 6th installment. Cover of the Week 5 is just below this, a holiday bonus for all of you, perhaps the only one that any of us will be getting this year unless you work at one of the hedge funds that acted on the subprime fiasco at the right time. So enjoy!

In a Misty Morning MP3

15 comments:

mike t. said...

Dumb question time: how does one download these songs?

Randy Reichardt said...

Bill: This is my favorite so far of the CotW. I'm sitting in my office at work, jonesing to go home so I can play along with you on my RainSong. Absolutely love the tempo and the feel that this song just keeps moving and moving and moving and doesn't want to stop. And the sound quality continues to blow me away.

You are spoiling us rotten with these offerings. It is such a privilege to be able to receive your readings of these songs. It's like...you're creating a small songbook of tunes most special to you, and allowing us the gift of enjoying them along with you. Thank you so much for doing this.

sjano said...

oh, that petty thing is great. the A&R guy has obviously foisted some crappy song on mcguinn, who drifts through this scene as aimlessly as he has his whole solo career.

petty calls the song garbage ("i could write a better song than this in two minutes.") and the guy suggests that they re-write the lyrics, if he doesn't like them. that's when petty flat-out accuses the guy of having points (a percentage of the publishing) on the song. the guy's like, "no! i don't!" "yeah, you do..." petty is saying, "don't you know who this is? this is a GREAT ARTIST here! and you're giving him this crap."

the segment ends with current-day petty saying, "To his credit, Roger did not record the song."

it is the among the great highlights of that movie, which i strongly recommend seeing. if you have four spare hours, that is.

Jim Wilbur said...

There's a great bio of Gene Clark by John Einarson. Fairly heartbreaking as it details the tragic mess he made of his life. Sort of creepy to find out that Clark played his last shambolic, alcohol fueled live shows at the Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt right around the time I first stayed there on tour, since if our paths had crossed at the time, I would not have had a clue about who he was.... Now it's rare a week goes by without playing at least one of his records. Nice work on the track, Bill

Jon B. said...

@mike t.: Here's how I do it.

1) Click on the DivShare logo in the top right corner of the widget.

2) On the next DivShare page, click on the link in the right column that says "Download Original".

3) Click the Skip Ad link on the next page.

4) The download should start automatically.

Bill Janovitz said...

Thanks everyone: Scott, for the added detail and for, well, just being you; Jim, for the tip on the book; Randy, for your continued enthusiasm and encouragement; the Academy for this lovely award; Jon for the explanation on the mechanics of downloading these. Please note that I have added links for downloading to these most recent posts where I had inadvertently left them out. I am capped at the amount of allowable downloads at the Divshare site. I will cross the bridge when I get tp it about what to do if/when I reach that limit.

Thanks all - Bill

rich L. said...

Hey Bill, these songs truly have been an unexpected treat. Seriously man, you are spreading some cheer and giving us something to look foward to each week. For me, your greatest asset is the 14 year old wanna be rock star that I hear in just about every song you do. I do mean that as a compliment. I guess, simply put, it's the passion you have for the music. Basically, it's second to none.

As Lisa Loeb said: "Thanks Bill."

Paul Daddario said...

Another great blog post. Excellent stories, and the songs have been great as well. You put the soul back into that tune, and that's where it draws the nostalgic Christmas home-coming appeal.

And your COTW reminds me just why the "D" chord (and its variations) is the premiere Guitar chord of jangle pop. Super stuff.

Bill Janovitz said...

Hey all, please note the clip of the Petty/McGuinn scene was located and is now embedded in the post.

Mike H said...

"This is just perpetrating a depth of shit"

Mike H. said...

I was quoting Petty because I think it is hillarious. Not commenting on the goings on here....

Bill Janovitz said...

it is indeed a nice quote.

camille said...

these covers of the week are so great, i love them. they are like a special little treat to open up each week. sort of like my daughter with this advent calendar she thinks is the greatest thing in the world. thanks for doing this, i know it must take time, and they are so very appreciated. i love the dreaming/til we meet again cover the best so far, but hopefully there will be many more to compare to. thanks, bill! pls keep this new year resolution!

The Clarkophile said...

Excellent job on the Gene Clark cover.

Anonymous said...

Nice one! W.