“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! 😊 🙏 😊☝️😊👏😊🙌