“Lover of the Bayou” (3:39)
Written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy
Produced by Jim Dickson
From “Untitled,” Columbia, September 14, 1970
The Byrds started out by creating the “folk-rock” genre, a hybrid of Bob Dylan folk and Beatles rock ‘n’ roll. They quickly explored other musical styles, pioneering jazz-rock, raga-rock, psychedelic rock, and finally settling into country-rock. But the latter-day Byrds lineup could also straight-up rock ‘n’ roll as they did with song #22 in our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown, “Lover of the Bayou.”
Whereas the original incarnation of the Byrds (1965-1968) was well-known for its indifference to rehearsing and the resulting poor quality of its live performances, the latter-day lineup of Roger McGuinn (guitar), Clarence White (guitar), Skip Battin (bass), and Gene Parsons (drums) earned a reputation as a hard working, audience pleasing, quality touring band.
McGuinn had co-written a number of songs with Broadway impresario, Jaques Levy, that were intended for a musical that never materialized. With the fresh material, the Byrds decided to release a double-album comprised of a studio disc and a live disc to show off the band’s in-concert chops.
The opener to the live disc, “Lover of the Bayou,” was one of the McGuinn-Levy tunes. It’s a pretty good rocker with Clarence putting his Telecaster through the paces, augmented by Battin’s bass lines, Parsons’ awkward overfills, and McGuinn providing inconspicuous rhythm on his twelve-string Rick. Some wondered if McGuinn had been listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival before writing this “gumbo rock” tune with its nonsensical lyrics. McGuinn later stated his inspiration was Malcolm “Dr. John” Rebennack. “Lover of the Bayou” was recorded at the Felt Forum in New York City on March 1st, 1970 and the hard-drivin’ rocker served as the opener to many a Byrds concert.
The “Untitled” album was easily the best of the five post-Sweetheart, McGuinn-White Byrds LPs and we’ll be visiting the album once more in our Top 25 countdown.