Byrds: Mr Spaceman

June 6, 2007

Here is a lip sync performance of The Byrds singing their UFO hymn, “Mr Spaceman” on The Smothers Brothers show, and judging by the way the band looks, it’s 1967–the year of their NOTORIOUS BYRD BROTHERS where David Crosby had been kicked out of the band. (Funny. It is indeed David’s high harmonies on the recording you hear here.) A sultry Gene Clark, soon to put out his first album, is playing rhythm guitar. Chris Hillman, who had recently met the talented and naughty Gram Parsons, is on bass. Michael Clarke, cute and drunk, is on drums. Roger McGuinn is playing his signature 12-string Rickenbacker. I love the psychedelia of this early music video. (The sound doesn’t line up with the image here, and the print is very lo-res, so I’d love to know whether there is a hi-res master out there somewhere.)

Chord motion is interesting here. In the verses, the chords all ascend (G A D repeated 2 times each verse); and in the chorus they descend (D C Am G repeated 2 times each verse). McGuinn keeps a high G pedal on his 12-string giving the impression that a banjo is playing. I love the eccentric cadence of ( ii I supertonic, tonic) accompanying the end of the chorus “won’t you please take me along for a ride.”


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