Song of the Week – Goin’ Back & Wasn’t Born to Follow, The Byrds

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Carole King and Gerry Goffin were one of the most successful songwriting teams of the early 60s.  As part of the Brill Building songwriting stable, they worked alongside the teams of Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil and Ellie Greenwich-Jeff Barry, and solo songwriters like Neil Diamond and Shadow Morton.

You already know most of the hits written by Goffin-King, but I’ll list a few anyway:

Chains – Cookies (covered by The Beatles)

Go Away Little Girl – Steve Lawrence

I’m Into Something Good – Herman’s Hermits

Locomotion – Little Eva

One Fine Day — Chiffons

Up On the Roof – Drifters

Take Good Care of My Baby – Bobby Vee

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – Shirelles

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin

But by the mid-‘60s the times had changed and pop/rock music had moved on from teen pop written by specialist songwriters to self-contained bands that wrote their own music with more adult themed lyrics.

By 1967, the duo reacted to these trends and embraced some of the trappings of the hippie culture.  They rejected suburban life and wrote “Pleasant Valley Sunday” to express their new values.

Around this time they also wrote two of my favorite recordings by The Byrds – “Goin’ Back” and “Wasn’t Born to Follow.”

Both songs were on the outstanding album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968).  The drama during the recording of The Notorious Byrd Brothers may match the well-documented soap opera that surrounded the production of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

David Crosby and Michael Clarke quit the band during the album sessions, leaving only Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman in the band.  (The recently deceased session drummer Hal Blaine replaced Clarke on some of the tracks.)  When Crosby left, McGuinn rehired one of the original, founding Byrds – Gene Clark – to come back on board, but that lasted for only a matter of weeks.

Still, the album stands up today and so do “Goin’ Back” and “Wasn’t Born to Follow.”

“Goin Back” reflects on the theme of exchanging adult responsibilities for the innocence of childhood.

Let everyone debate the true reality,
I’d rather see the world the way it used to be
A little bit of freedom’s all we’re lack
So catch me if you can
I’m goin’ back

In his review of “Wasn’t Born to Follow” on AllMusic, Thomas Ward writes:

Sung by Roger McGuinn, the song is a lovely moment in The Notorious Byrd Brothers, and it reflects the group’s more rural influence which has dated far less than their more psychedelic leanings. The lyrics are tremendous, commenting on the need for escape and independence.

By 1969 Goffin and King were divorced, but the legacy of their songwriting partnership will never be broken.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Strange Times, Moody Blues

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

The Moody Blues were finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2018.  In the opinion of their multitude of fans, it was long overdue.  Other perennial “bridesmaids” have also crossed the finish line in recent years — Yes (2017) and Chicago (2016).  That leaves Todd Rundgren as one of the last artists that have been wrongfully omitted, though you may also have a favorite that is still in waiting.

But back to the Moodys.  One thing you have to say about them is that they have been very consistent with their sound.  They hit with “Go Now” soon after their formation in 1964 and settled on their classic lineup – Graeme Edge (drums), Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals), Ray Thomas (vocals, flute, percussion, harmonica), Justin Hayward (guitar, vocals), John Lodge (bass, vocals) – by 1966.  This is the group that recorded their catalog of well-known albums, from Days of Future Passed (1967) to Seventh Sojourn (1972).  Beyond the ‘70s, the band in various configurations recorded high quality releases.  Some even yielded hit singles like “Gemini Dream” and “The Voice” (1981) and “Your Wildest Dreams” (1986).

Today’s SotW is the title track from the 1999 release, Strange Times.

This song is well played by the classic lineup, less Mike Pinder.  A highlight is their use of acoustic guitars and (as always) the harmony vocals.  The lyrics are hokey, hippy gibberish, but hey, this is the Moody Blues.

This was the last album that included the work of Ray Thomas.  Thomas died just after the New Year 2018, so he missed the band’s Rock Hall induction.  Too bad.

Enjoy… until next week.