Friday, January 23, 2009

Rare Byrd Sightings

Here are a few tunes to tide you all over from the quality Byrds catalog. Before doing a wee bit of research just now, I was unaware how closely these two songs were linked. Both songs were unissued Byrds songs that were eventually released in 1969 as "Pre Flyte", a compilation of songs that pre-dated their first album "Mr. Tambourine Man." Both songs don't sound particularly Byrd-like, but that doesn't mean they're not excellent folk-pop numbers.

The Byrds - Airport Song
McGuinn shares the writing credits on "The Airport Song," but its delicate lead vocal and its jazzy changes mark this as a Crosby song, and not a bad one at all. Though not quite up to the level of "Everybody Has Been Burned," which dates from Crosby's pre-Byrds career as a solo folksinger, "The Airport Song" shows him working in similar territory. (from The Byrd Watcher site)

The Turtles - You Showed Me
One of the earliest Byrds songs, "You Showed Me" was an auspicious beginning. A minor-key romantic ballad, the song has a near- Beach Boys feel and ends up being an effervescent piece of moody pop. Although this fine song was left off the Byrds' debut album (no doubt to make room for more Dylan covers), it is available on Preflyte (or In the Beginning on Rhino). The Turtles did a fabulous, slowed-down cover of the song, which was a huge hit in 1969, at the end of their career. Furthermore, U2 sampled the Turtles' version for the hook on "Playboy Mansion" in the late '90s, providing the writers with another, unexpected royalty windfall.

"The 1989 debut album by hip-hop combo De La Soul featured an uncredited sample from the Turtles (specifically, the intro to "You Showed Me"), in the song "Transmitting Live from Mars". Kaylan and Volman sued, winning a large settlement, setting a legal precedent, and causing the music industry to begin carefully crediting (and paying royalties for) sampled works on future rap and other recordings. As they explained, "We don't hate sampling; we like sampling. If we don't get credit, we sue, and all that stuff (a share of the royalties, plus punitive damages) comes back to us!" (from Wikipedia)

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