The Byrds Release “Mr. Tambourine Man”

On June 21, 1965, the Byrds helped launch the folk-rock movement with their release of their debut album with the title track of a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Below, The Byrds perform the song on television in the 1960s.

The Byrds — with Roger McGuinn singing lead as Gene Clark and David Crosby provided the harmony — recorded “Mr. Tambourine Man” in January for their debut album even before Dylan had a chance to record it himself. When Dylan heard what the Byrds did to his song, he reportedly exclaimed, “Wow, man, you can even dance to that!” By the time the Byrds released their album on June 21, 1965, Dylan was in the studio finishing up “Like a Rolling Stone.”

In this video below from a 2009 webcast, Chris Hillman of The Byrds tells how the band came to reinterpret “Mr. Tambourine Man” and how jazz great Miles Davis helped the band get its first record contract. Check it out.

“Mr. Tambourine Man” also has been covered by Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins, Teenage Fan Club, William Shatner, and Kevin Costner. For another performance of “Mr. Tambourine Man” by The Byrds, check out their second television performance in May 1965 before their first album was officially released.

What is your favorite version of “Mr. Tambourine Man”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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