October 1992: They Were So Much Older Then

Our video for the day is the performance of Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages” at The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration.  The concert — held at on October 16, 1992 at Madison Square Garden — celebrated Dylan’s 30 years of recording.  And this performance featured Dylan, Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton and George Harrison.

It is an amazing collection of legends onstage doing on of Dylan’s great early songs.  “My Back Pages” originally appeared on his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan.

What is amazing about this performance is how at the time of the concert, the singers were already legends and they seemed old at the time.  But looking at it now, they all seem so young.  Or maybe part of that is because I am so much older now.

Check out the video, which begins with Roger McGuinn singing the song, which he had previous recorded with The Byrds and released in 1967.  Then, the others follow until Dylan takes the lead himself.  In the meantime, one may watch Dylan’s face to make any guesses about what he is thinking as the others sing his song.

There are various interpretations of “My Back Pages,” although most read it as Dylan’s rejection of his younger idealism.  But like many of his songs, listeners may find their own meaning and a little of their own life in the song.  And, more than two decades ago, we found a little more connection to the song through many of the rock legends of our youth.

What is your favorite version of “My Back Pages”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Got My Mind Set on George Harrison
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  • Bob Dylan and George Harrison: “Time Passes Slowly”
  • The Byrds Release “Mr. Tambourine Man”
  • Dylan’s Late-Career Classics: Not Dark Yet
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    Best Gospel Songs by Pop Stars (Part 5): Cash & Byrds

     

    Chimesfreedom continues its periodic discussion of the best gospel songs by popular singers.  In this Post, we consider recordings by Johnny Cash and The Byrds.

    “Spiritual,” Johnny Cash

    I am not sure why it has taken me until this far into our “Gospel Songs by Pop Stars” series to write about “Spiritual” because I love this song. Johnny Cash, of course, recorded a number of religious songs though his career, but this one recorded near the end of his life stands out for me.

    “Spiritual” was written by Josh Haden, son of great jazz bassist Charlie Haden. There are other excellent versions of the song, including one of Josh singing on his father’s 2008 album, Rambling Boy. But Johnny Cash’s version from his 1996 Unchained album gets me every time.

    The song starts slow and hypnotic, gradually building to an emotional cry of pain. Beautiful.

    “I Like the Christian Life,” The Byrds

    The Byrds, under the influence of Gram Parsons, recorded “I Like the Christian Life” for their Sweetheart Of The Rodeo (1968) album. The excellent album is largely credited as a major catalyst for the country-rock movement, and “The Christian Life” was a cover of a classic Louvin Brothers song for the hippie crowd.

    On a rock record, one might expect the song to translate into tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, but the song feels genuine in its praise of living a simple Christian life. It is hard to imagine an album by a major pop group including a song like this one today.

    Originally, the Byrds recorded the song with Gram Parsons singing lead vocal, but a dispute about Parson’s contract with another record company, the Byrds replaced Parsons’s lead vocals on some of the songs. Some believe that the change was also motivated by the band’s concern that the album was becoming too much of a Gram Parsons project.

    So, the official album version featured Roger McGuinn’s vocals dubbed into the lead. Both versions are excellent and appear on re-issues. Below is McGuinn’s version that was originally released on the CD.

    For comparison, below is a rehearsal take featuring Gram Parsons singing lead.

     

     

    Check out other posts in our series on Gospel Songs by Pop Singers.

    What is your favorite gospel song by a popular singer? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Charlie Haden’s “Spiritual”
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  • The Byrds Release “Mr. Tambourine Man”
  • Best Gospel Songs by Pop Singers 4: Morning, Flying & Mystery
  • Great Song, Bad Name: Hot Burrito #1
  • Best Gospel Songs by Pop Singers 3: Ready, Walk, Great
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)

    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.

  • October 1992: They Were So Much Older Then
  • Best Gospel Songs by Pop Stars (Part 5): Cash & Byrds
  • Gene Clark in Concert: 1985
  • Dylan’s Late-Career Classics: Not Dark Yet
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young & . . . Tom Jones?
  • Bob Dylan Croons “I Could Have Told You”
  • (Some Related Chimesfreedom Posts)