Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Byrds - The Christian Life

This is one from the vinyl collection -- I picked it up not too long ago from a record store here in Seattle. For those who might not know The Byrds beyond the ubiquity and mediocrity of Turn, Turn, Turn! and maybe their Mr. Tambourine Man cover, "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" sold poorly at the time but today gets billed as an "important" country-rock album. It's a set of mostly covers, their vocal harmonies set to earnest country and western. Basement Tapes-era Dylan bookends the album, with "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" and "Nothing was Delivered" (the former is a great cover and one of the highlights of the album; the latter is so-so). There's also some Merle Haggard and Woody Guthrie, among others. The whole thing is on YouTube if you are so inclined.

But this song: It's striking to hear a band whose music is so ingrained in the culture of the 1960s pledge their unabashed devotion to "the Christian life," and do it with this kind of (apparent) sincerity. To the long-hairs listening to this album when it was released (in 1968), it must have been a pretty provocative moment.


Steve said...

I've tried to figure out how this song seems to fit in for awhile now. You're right, the marijuana was kicking in at this track, and unsure looks were probably flashed around the room.

Whisk E. Bear said...

After dumping on Mr. Tambourine Man, I found the full-length at a record store yesterday for $7.