“Time Between” (1:53)
Written by Chris Hillman
Produced by Gary Usher
From “Younger Than Yesterday,” Columbia, February 6, 1967
Byrds bassist, Chris Hillman, grew up in Rancho Santa Fe-San Diego and developed an interest in the burgeoning Southern California country music scene. He had been a member of several SoCal bluegrass bands before he was drafted into the Byrds. Hillman was limited to playing bass on the first two albums, however, the resignation of Gene Clark from the band in early-1966 opened up multiple opportunities. Hillman contributed vocals for the first time on the “Fifth Dimension” LP and brought, not one, but five song compositions to the “Younger Than Yesterday” recording sessions. One of those tunes is #14 in our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown.
“Time Between” was the very first song ever written by Hillman. At first listen, you might think it’s just a simple country-rock song, but there’s much more to it than meets the ear. Other rock bands had previously recorded country-themed tunes with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, like the Beatles’ cover of Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally” (“Help,” 1965), but “Time Between” is arguably the first straight-ahead, pure country song ever recorded by a major rock ‘n’ roll band.
To give the song an authentic country twang, Hillman brought in Clarence White, one of SoCal’s best, young, country guitarists. Fifty-four years later, accomplished country guitarists still marvel at Clarence’s mastery displayed throughout this song, particularly the jaw-dropping solo (1:14 to 1:32). If you take the time to listen, you’ll be hearing a virtuoso. In addition to White, Hillman tapped one of his former bluegrass bandmates, Vern Gosdin, to add some acoustic guitar and backing vocals. David Crosby later insisted that Gosdin’s vocals be expunged from the recording and replaced by his own. Vern Gosdin, as some of you may know, would go on to have a huge country music career.
Trivia: “Time Between” documents a long-distance, trans-Atlantic romance involving Hillman and Anya Butler, English secretary to Kit Lambert, manager of The Who. The two married in 1967, but divorced in 1968. Hillman included “Time Between” as part of his in-concert repertoire over the next 54 years. He actually re-recorded the song in 1987 for the debut album of his outstanding Desert Rose Band.