The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #7, “5D (Fifth Dimension)”

“5D (Fifth Dimension)” (2:33)
Written by Jim McGuinn
Produced by Allen Stanton
From “Fifth Dimension,” Columbia Records, July 18, 1966. Previously released as a single on June 13, 1966.

I’ve already mentioned that the Byrds’ third album, “Fifth Dimension,” saw the band break free from its “folk rock” pigeon hole and explore new genres such as jazz-rock, raga-rock, and psychedelic-rock. The album also included song #7 in our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown, “5D (Fifth Dimension),” a marker on one band member’s journey to spiritual truth.

Lead guitarist and unofficial band leader, Jim McGuinn, was raised as a Roman Catholic, but in 1965 he began exploring Subud, an obscure Eastern religion that got its start in Indonesia in the 1920s. As a requirement of that religion, Jim would later legally change his name to Roger. With “5D (Fifth Dimension),” McGuinn muses about spirituality in 1960s fashion. It’s all about rejecting materialism, dimensions 1 thru 4 (height, width, depth, and time), and finding peace and joy by connecting with a nebulous “Supreme Being/Higher Power” and “cosmic consciousness” (the 5th dimension).

McGuinn would continue on with his spiritual journey. Following the dissolution of the Byrds in 1973 and several less-than-stellar years as a solo artist, McGuinn found himself at rock bottom professionally and personally, with a serious drug habit. Elvis Presley’s drug-induced death in August of 1977 was a “wake-up call.” McGuinn thought, “That could have easily been me.” Presley’s death was the impetus leading McGuinn to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior. See my relevant blog post here.

I really enjoyed “5D (Fifth Dimension).” The waltz melody builds to a rousing crescendo with McGuinn’s Rickenbacker and guest artist, Van Dyke Parks’ Hammond B-3 organ delivering a symphonious tribute to Bach. It’s hands down the best ending of any Byrds tune. David Crosby’s high harmony vocals are exquisite. Bassist, Chris Hillman, remarked years later that this song was his favorite McGuinn composition and I would agree. The execs at Columbia Records were equally impressed and released “5D (Fifth Dimension)” as a single, however it was only “somewhat” well-received by AM radio listeners, peaking at number 44 on the Billboard charts, a Top 40 near-miss.

It’s my pleasure to present song #7 in our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown, “5D (Fifth Dimension),” one man’s stop on the journey to spiritual truth.

In the video below, recorded in 2020, listen to 77-year-old Roger McGuinn joyfully sing of Jesus Christ, our Savior, on “Easter Morn He Rose.” Sing it, Roger! 😊 🙏 😊☝️😊👏😊🙌

14 thoughts on “The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #7, “5D (Fifth Dimension)”

    1. Thanks, David! Yes, 5D definitely does have a Dylanesque sound to it. McGuinn and Dylan had a friendly relationship and the influences went both ways.
      Thanks for the support! Songs 6 and 5 are lesser-known personal favorites while 4 to 1 are the big guns.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa Beth! The “backstory” of lead guitarist, Roger McGuinn, eventually accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior is definitely the highlight of this 25-part series.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. ANswering your question: I’m not reading a history book at the moment as I’m swamped with theological reading for preaching and discipling people one on one but hope to start history reading again this month!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow praise God that the Lord saved the leader of the band. I played the song twice; interesting title of the song. This is proabably the best song I enjoyed so far from them. Mainly with the backstory. Its crazy to think the song is from decades ago

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for listening! Yup, I’m grateful that McGuinn eventually accepted Christ. It’s nice to know there’s a happy ending to this “spiritual searching” song. However, when I heard McGuinn became one of those “dumb born-agains” back in 1977, I was disappointed and troubled.

      RE: song from 56 years ago

      Popular music changed dramatically from my parents generation to mine, but it hasn’t changed all that much since then, except for urban rap.

      Like

    1. Thanks, Crissy! I remember I was initially disgusted that Roger had become one of those “born-agains.” But it it ended up being one of the many things the Lord used to draw me to Him.

      Liked by 1 person

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