The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #9, “Everybody’s Been Burned”

“Everybody’s Been Burned” (3:05)
Written by David Crosby
Produced by Gary Usher
From “Younger Than Yesterday,” Columbia Records, February 6, 1967. Also released as the B-side of “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” on January 9, 1967.

David Crosby grew up listening to his parents’ large collection of classical and folk recordings. His musical palette was expanded further when his older brother introduced him to 1950s-era jazz – Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Dave Brubeck, etc. – and Crosby never lost his love for the jazz genre. A good example is song #9 in our Byrds’ Top 25 Song countdown, “Everybody’s Been Burned.”

The Byrds’ third album, “Fifth Dimension,” saw Crosby begin to emerge as a creative force in the band. By the following album, “Younger Than Yesterday,” Croz felt comfortable enough to present this very un-Byrdsy jazz tune that he had actually written in 1962, two-years prior to the formation of the Byrds.

This is a bittersweet torch song about broken romance and emotional guardedness that most of us can readily relate to, but with a trace of optimism at the end. Crosby’s evocative tenor vocal here is stunning. Lead guitarist and nominal band leader, Jim (later Roger) McGuinn later disparaged the tune, calling it “Crosby’s lounge song.” That said, McGuinn provides an excellent accompaniment on his twelve-string Rickenbacker, including perhaps his very best solo interlude on a Byrds recording. Chris Hillman has downplayed his abilities as a bassist with the Byrds, but his running bass solo from the beginning to the end of this song is remarkable.

Byrds aficionado and biographer, Johnny Rogan, wrote of “Everybody’s Been Burned” that it “quietly threatened to dwarf everything else” on the excellent “Younger Than Yesterday” album, and that the song “stands alongside the greatest material recorded by the Byrds” (Byrds: Requiem for the Timeless, Vol.1, p. 321).

It’s my pleasure to present song #9 in our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown, “Everybody’s Been Burned.”

14 thoughts on “The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #9, “Everybody’s Been Burned”

  1. Excellent song, Tom. I loved the melody as well as the heartfelt lyrics. And yes, I did like his hint of optimism at the end. He was obviously very hurt by a failed relationship, but won’t give up.

    No need for McGuinn to disparage the tune. If he didn’t like the song, why say anything at all?

    I notice a lot of rockers do that years later … disparage their songs, and those of others in the band. John Lennon did this quite often.

    Great post, and looking forward to Number 8!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David! I appreciate the good comments. Crosby (and McGuinn on guitar) really captured the melancholy mood following a romantic breakup. I can remember listening to “Younger Than Yesterday” for the first time about five years after the album’s release and thinking this song was special.

      McGuinn and Crosby used to periodically trade pot shots in the musical press following Crosby’s firing in ’67. Silly overall and particularly in this case since McGuinn did such a nice job with his contribution.

      Liked by 1 person

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