Monday, February 27, 2017

Byrds – "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll star" (1967)

If you make the charts
The girls will tear you apart

I was never a big fan of the Byrds, but I have to give credit where credit is due: “Eight Miles High” is as good a record as was recorded in the sixties – it’s like nothing else I’ve ever heard.

The Byrds
“So You Want to Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star” isn’t as mind-blowing as “Eight Miles High,” but it packs a lot into just two minutes.  The lyrics are remarkably intelligent, and the arrangement is perfect. 

The song was written by Chris Hillman and Jim McGuinn (who later changed his named to Roger after becoming involved with a spiritual movement called Subud). 

Hillman came up with the song’s bass guitar line during a Hugh Masakela recording session.  Masakela (a South African trumpet player whose biggest hit was “Grazing in the Grass”) returned the favor and contributed a very interesting trumpet part to “So You Want to Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star.”

Hugh Masakela and the Byrds' David Crosby
The audio of screaming fans that you hear about a minute into the song was recorded at an August 1965 concert in England.

A lot of people have covered “So You Want to Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star.”  Patti Smith’s cover is probably the most famous one.  (About all I can say about it is that it’s better than the Black Oak Arkansas cover.)

The oddest cover version of “So You Want to Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star” was the very earliest one – the instrumental recording of the song that was released on the Royal Guardsmen’s The Return of the Red Baron album the same year that the Byrds’ version reached #29 on the Billboard “Hot 100.”  

Why in the world would you do an instrumental version of “So You Want to Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star”?  It’s like doing an instrumental version of a Bob Dylan song, or the Gettysburg Address.

The song did not chart in the UK.  (I have only one thing to say about that to my British readers: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?)

Here’s “So You Want to Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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