The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #23, “Changing Heart”

“Changing Heart” (2:42)
Written by Gene Clark
Produced by David Crosby
From “Byrds,” Asylum Records, March 7, 1973

The Byrds started out in 1965, but by late-1968, Roger McGuinn was the only remaining original member. The lead guitarist soldiered on for five more years with hired hands. The ersatz Byrds’ released their last album, “Farther Along,” in 1971, but the band continued to tour. With the exponential popularity of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Asylum Records president, David Geffen, thought it would be financially lucrative if David Crosby, McGuinn, and the other founding members of the Byrds, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke reunited for an album, a tour, and possibly more. McGuinn bought into the idea and finally pulled the plug on his ersatz, touring Byrds.

I remember eagerly anticipating the release of “Byrds,” the reunion album of the original members of the band. I got on a bus after school and headed to Midtown Records in downtown Rochester to get my copy. But when I got home and played the LP I was like, “Huh?” Overall, the album was disappointing, but Gene Clark contributed two excellent tunes with “Changing Heart” getting a slight edge over “Full Circle.” That’s Gene playing the harmonica. One of the more disappointing aspects of this album was producer Crosby’s decision to minimize McGuinn’s trademark 12-string Rickenbaker (possibly in retaliation for his firing in 1967?), but we do get to hear some muffled riffs in this tune.

Despite being a gifted songwriter, Gene’s career never took off after he quit the Byrds in 1966 (he’d been the band’s primary songwriter for their first two albums). In this song, Gene bemoans being misunderstood and mishandled by the record company execs. In actuality, much of the problem was due to his own heavy drug and alcohol abuse (in conjunction with other mental health problems). Clark died in 1991 at the age of 46 from accumulated, self-inflicted health issues.

I wasn’t the only Byrds fan disappointed by the reunion album. Due to the unenthusiastic response, a tour and subsequent projects never materialized. The next and last time the five original Byrds appeared together was eighteen years later in 1991 when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, just four months before Gene’s death.

15 thoughts on “The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #23, “Changing Heart”

    1. Thanks, David! There was LOTS of personal and interpersonal turmoil going on with this band. Most people just took the LP out of the cover and enjoyed the music, but I had to investigate the drama.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. ๐Ÿ‘
      Hope the lessons went well! I’ve been working on to-do projects all day so behind on WordPress. I completed the cable covering project after ripping out my first attempt and buying more strips at Home Depot. Actually looks pretty good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Day is good! Just finished homeschooling and about to treat one daughter with daughter-dad time with pastries. I’m trying to do this one on one with the girls once a week with each one and we are starting with the youngest.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jimmy! Yeah, I can remember buying this album at the record store 48 years ago like it was yesterday.
      Yup, we also called albums “LPs” which was short for “long play.” The vinyl records prior to 1948 spun at 78 revolutions per minute so they could only get about 5-minutes of music per side. Columbia came out with the LP in ’48 which spun at a much slower 33 and 1/3 RPM so they could record 22 minutes per side (later extended to even longer). I knew only the basics of this and got the details from Wiki.

      RE: Bob Dylan
      Yeah, Clark and the Byrds had a very strong connection with Dylan. Dylan even publicly complimented Clark on his songwriting (a rarity), but the man constantly self-sabotoged his career via his mental health issues exacerbated by the drugs and alcohol.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s amazing how technology stayed the same all those years 1948 to 1970 with the LP and then tape came into the picture, then CDs, then iPods, and now music is all via streaming.

        Liked by 1 person

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