The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #22: “Lover of the Bayou”

“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.

The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #23, “Changing Heart”

“Changing Heart” (2:42)
Written by Gene Clark
Produced by David Crosby
From “Byrds,” Asylum Records, March 7, 1973

The Byrds started out in 1965, but by late-1968, Roger McGuinn was the only remaining original member. The lead guitarist soldiered on for five more years with hired hands. The ersatz Byrds’ released their last album, “Farther Along,” in 1971, but the band continued to tour. With the exponential popularity of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Asylum Records president, David Geffen, thought it would be financially lucrative if David Crosby, McGuinn, and the other founding members of the Byrds, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke reunited for an album, a tour, and possibly more. McGuinn bought into the idea and finally pulled the plug on his ersatz, touring Byrds.

I remember eagerly anticipating the release of “Byrds,” the reunion album of the original members of the band. I got on a bus after school and headed to Midtown Records in downtown Rochester to get my copy. But when I got home and played the LP I was like, “Huh?” Overall, the album was disappointing, but Gene Clark contributed two excellent tunes with “Changing Heart” getting a slight edge over “Full Circle.” That’s Gene playing the harmonica. One of the more disappointing aspects of this album was producer Crosby’s decision to minimize McGuinn’s trademark 12-string Rickenbaker (possibly in retaliation for his firing in 1967?), but we do get to hear some muffled riffs in this tune.

Despite being a gifted songwriter, Gene’s career never took off after he quit the Byrds in 1966 (he’d been the band’s primary songwriter for their first two albums). In this song, Gene bemoans being misunderstood and mishandled by the record company execs. In actuality, much of the problem was due to his own heavy drug and alcohol abuse (in conjunction with other mental health problems). Clark died in 1991 at the age of 46 from accumulated, self-inflicted health issues.

I wasn’t the only Byrds fan disappointed by the reunion album. Due to the unenthusiastic response, a tour and subsequent projects never materialized. The next and last time the five original Byrds appeared together was eighteen years later in 1991 when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, just four months before Gene’s death.

The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #24: “Bad Night at the Whiskey”

“Bad Night at the Whiskey” (3:23)
Written by Roger McGuinn and Joseph Richards
Produced by Bob Johnston
Released as a single, January 7, 1969
From “Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde,” Columbia, March 5, 1969

After Chris Hillman quit the Byrds in the Summer of 1968, only Roger McGuinn (guitar) remained as a founding member. McGuinn pressed forward with hired hands, Clarence White (guitar), John York (bass), and Gene Parsons (drums). Their studio album, “Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde” was met with a cool reception by fans and critics. The songs were mostly mediocre and the production was terrible. Bob Johnston, producer of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, inexplicably turned the treble way down in the creation of this muffled disappointment.

One song stood out for me on this album and that was “Bad Night at the Whiskey,” written by McGuinn and his friend, Joey Richards, an early-60s rocker. Columbia execs also thought enough of the song to release it as a single, although it failed to chart.

I enjoyed “Bad Night…” a lot despite the muffled mix. The vocal sustain is a nice element. A couple of minor criticisms: York’s high harmonies can’t compete with the masterful high harmonies of former-Byrd, David Crosby, and über-talented country guitarist, Clarence White, is a fish out of water as he attempts to play rock ‘n’ roll. Many have labeled the angry lyrics of this tune – e.g., Well I’ll stay out of your way if you keep out of mine – as “allusive,” and perhaps that was on purpose. In her book, “In the Wings: My Life with Roger McGuinn and The Byrds” (2017), Ianthe McGuinn writes that her relationship with the Byrds’ leader was very troubled at this stage because of Roger’s hedonistic rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. They would legally divorce in 1971. The “Whiskey” in the title refers to the Whisky A Go-Go, a night club on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles that featured many of the most popular rock bands of the era.


The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #25, “Gunga Din”

As promised, today we begin our weekly series counting down the Byrds’ Top 25 Songs (in my humble opinion).


“Gunga Din” (3:03)
Written by Gene Parsons
Produced by Terry Melcher
From “Ballad of Easy Rider,” Columbia, November 10, 1969

After the poor showing of their previous album, “Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde” (March 1969), the Byrds got a boost by having three songs included on the soundtrack of the popular counter-culture film, “Easy Rider.” Roger McGuinn, guitar, and his three hired hands – Clarence White, guitar, John York, bass, and Gene Parsons, drums – shamelessly exploited their connection to the movie by naming their next album, “Ballad of Easy Rider.” The band’s original producer, Terry Melcher, was enlisted in hopes of repeating some of that “Mr. Tambourine Man”/”Turn! Turn! Turn!” success. Columbia’s advertising execs hailed the album as the band’s rebirth, but it was largely a collection of cover tunes and unremarkable musicstry.

Most fans would follow the undiscerning crowd and select “Ballad of Easy Rider” or “Jesus is Just Alright,” the two singles, as the album’s best songs, but I’m partial to the deep cut, “Gunga Din,” written by Parsons and arguably the finest composition of his career. The song has a nice melody paced by multi-instrumentalist Parsons’ rollicking acoustic guitar fingerpicking, York’s lilting bass-line, and a catchy chorus. Parsons isn’t the greatest vocalist in the world (notice the enhanced double-track), but his plaintive singing style fits this tune perfectly. The lyrics have Parsons recalling the band’s disappointing tour stop in rainy New York City while traveling back to sunny L.A. aboard a DC-8. Parsons refers to two incidents: 1) a concert in Central Park in which another act, Chuck Berry, “Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll,” failed to show, which infuriated the crowd, and 2) bassist, John York’s foiled attempt to have breakfast with his mother at the Gramercy Park Hotel where the Byrds regularly stayed when in town. The dining room maître d’ refused York a table because of his scandalous black leather jacket attire. After the disappointing tour stop, the listener can’t wait to get back, with Parsons, to sunny L.A.

Amateur Byrds fans continue to perpetuate the mistaken notion over the internet that “Gunga Din” was Parsons’ nickname for York, however, Parsons has stated that he “threw in the nonsensical ‘Gunga Din’ part to make up the rhyme.”* Legendary keyboardist, Glen D. Hardin, plays organ on the cut although his contribution is somewhat buried in the mix.


*Byrds: Requiem for the Timeless, Volume 1, p. 528.

The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs – Introduction

Rock music connoisseur, Hans, over at slicethelife is currently presenting a Beatles’ Top 100 Songs countdown. That prompted me to think about doing a Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown. The Byrds were obviously not nearly as successful and popular as the quartet from Liverpool, but they did carve out a significant niche for themselves as perhaps the most influential American rock band of the 1960s. Most folks over a certain age remember the Byrds only for their two iconic singles from 1965, “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn,” but their output actually spanned from 1965 to 1973 and they influenced an entire generation of songwriters and musicians (including the Beatles and Dylan). Over the course of those eight years, the Byrds recorded twelve studio albums, which included 130 songs as well as a small number of singles-only 45s. Along the way, they pioneered such genres as folk-rock, jazz-rock, raga-rock, psychedelic rock, and country-rock.

I initially thought it would be difficult choosing my favorite 25 Byrds songs and ranking them, but the process actually went very quickly. My choices admittedly don’t reflect the beaten path consensus – only 9 of my selections were included as part of the 22 songs collected in the The Byrds’ Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2 albums. The designation of songs selected for those albums as “Hits,” especially those songs in Vol. 2, was a misnomer. The last time a Byrds tune made it to the AM Top 40 was in March 1967. The band’s roster changed significantly over the years and by 1969 Roger McGuinn was the only founding member still involved. The quality of the music declined significantly at that point, which will be noticeable by the songs that were chosen; only 7 of the 25 songs selected were recorded after the Summer of 1968.

Enough with the wordy introductions. Next Wednesday we’ll begin our The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs series with song #25 and count it down each week to song #1.

Postcript: For the index to my reviews of the Byrds’ twelve albums, see here.

Throwback Thursday: I thought I’d seen Someone, Who seemed at last, to know the Truth. I wasn’t mistaken.

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 25, 2016.


In a couple of previous posts, I mentioned that I’d been a huge fan of the rock bands, The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, and Nash way back when I was a teenager. David Crosby was a member of both groups and I liked his music quite a bit. Crosby was an excellent singer and wrote some outstanding tunes. But he was also an atheist and occasionally preached his godless worldview via his songs.

Yesterday, I had Pandora on in the background as I was washing a few dishes and Crosby’s song, “Laughing,” from his 1971 solo album, “If I Could Only Remember My Name,” started playing. I remember I used to love that song. It seemed so full of wisdom at the time. Crosby actually wrote the song in response to ex-Beatle, George Harrison, and his deep involvement with Hindu guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and later, with the Hare Krishna sect.

Check out the song’s lyrics below. Crosby was/is a man searching for truth while denying the truth.


I thought I met a man,
Who said he knew a man,
Who knew what was going on.
I was mistaken,
Only another stranger that I knew.

And I thought that I found a light,
To guide me through my night,
And all this darkness.
I was mistaken,
Only reflections of a shadow that I saw.

And I thought I’d seen someone,
Who seemed at last,
To know the truth.
I was mistaken,
Only a child laughing in the sun.
Ah! In the sun.

Well, David, I finally did meet the Man who not only knows the Truth but Who is the Truth! His name is Jesus Christ and He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Praise the Lord, I accepted Jesus Christ a decade after filling my head with “Laughing” and similarly-themed existentialism from the high priests of rock and roll.

“Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:68-69

“Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” John 18:37-38

Postscript: That’s Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead playing some exquisite licks on pedal steel guitar.

Note from 2021: At an age when most 1960s rockers are either long-retired or dead, David Crosby continues to create albums, completing five in the last seven years. Prominent on the 80-year-old atheist’s albums are songs expressing anxiety over his looming death.

Chris Hillman, pioneer of country-rock, recounts his stints in the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Desert Rose Band, etc.

Time Between: My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother, and Beyond
By Chris Hillman
BMG, 2020, 238 pp.

With the arrival of the British Invasion and “Beatlemania” in 1964, folk musicians, Jim McGuinn (twelve-string, lead guitar), Gene Clark, and David Crosby (rhythm guitar) saw the writing on the wall and united to form a rock n’ roll band. Chris Hillman, (bass guitar) and Michael Clarke (drums) were added and the Byrds were born. The band had phenomenal success right out of the gate with their first recording, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” going to #1 on the singles charts and their same-titled album, released in June, 1965, peaking at #6 on the album charts. The Byrds’ unique sound, a melding of folk music and rock n’ roll, influenced a generation of songwriters and musicians.

In this very enjoyable memoir, Chris Hillman recounts his career, beginning with his boyhood years growing up in Rancho Santa Fe, California, his development as a country-bluegrass musician, and his unlikely recruitment into the Byrds at the tender age of nineteen. After several personnel changes, Hillman’s role in the Byrds grew, and he and new recruit, Gram Parsons, steered the band into country music with the pioneering album, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” (1968). Parsons and Hillman then broke away from the Byrds and founded the influential country-rock band, the Flying Burrito Brothers (1968-1972).

Following the Burritos, Hillman was involved in the following notable ventures while continuing to hone his skills as a musician, singer, and songwriter:

  • Manassas with Stephen Stills (1971-1973)
  • Byrds’ founding members’ reunion album (1973)
  • Souther-Hillman-Furay Band (1973-1975)
  • Solo albums, Slippin’ Away (1976) and Clear Sailin’ (1977)
  • McGuinn, Clark, and Hillman (1977-1981)

Following MCH, Hillman returned to his country-bluegrass roots with three, small-label albums, leading to the formation of the Desert Rose Band (1985-1994), where he enjoyed his most satisfying professional success as the leader and frontman of the popular country music band.

After DRB folded, Hillman kept busy with a number of small-label releases, always including friend and ex-DRB bandmate, Herb Pedersen.

Hillman intermixes his professional history with many personal reflections including the inevitable internecine squabbles with bandmates. Hillman was sixteen when his father committed suicide in 1961, which scarred the boy and fueled ugly rages throughout his life. Hillman claimed to have accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior in 1973, through the witness of Christian bandmate, Al Perkins, but would eventually “convert” to the legalistic sacramentalism of his wife, Connie’s, Greek Orthodox church.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Being a long-time fan of the Byrds and their offshoots, I already knew many of the stories, but Hillman does provide some fresh insights. The preliminaries are a bit too long for my taste. Hillman doesn’t actually document his initiation into the Byrds until page 67, nearly one-third of the way through the book, but that’s a minor criticism. The takeaway is the interesting story of a very shy, young musician of limited abilities, who, despite plenty of adversity, determinedly persisted and made himself into a remarkable talent and showman. No one in attendance at those early Byrds concerts in 1965, including his bandmates, would have guessed that the shy bass player with his back to the audience would go on to carve out a distinguished, fifty-five-year career. Those in the know recognize Chris Hillman, now age 75, as one of the principal pioneers of the country-rock sound, which would later be successfully commercialized by the Eagles.

Chris Hillman today

Status of the other founding members of the Byrds: Gene Clark (d.1991) and Michael Clarke (d.1993) died from drug and alcohol abuse. After achieving fame and success as a member of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, David Crosby nearly ended his life due to drug addiction before spending five-months in prison and drying out in 1986. He continues making albums and touring. Jim (later Roger) McGuinn also became heavily involved with drugs. In 1977, with his life spiraling out of control, McGuinn accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He also continues to record and tour and publicly profess his faith. See my post about McGuinn here. For my reviews of all twelve of the Byrds’ albums, see my index here.

Below: The Byrds’ recording of “Time Between,” written by Chris Hillman, from the 1967 album, “Younger Than Yesterday.” That’s guest artist and future Byrd, Clarence White, masterfully delivering some very tasty country guitar licks. Nope, that’s not a pedal steel guitar Clarence is playing, it’s a 1954-model Fender Telecaster modified with a B-Bender.

Throwback Thursday: Turn! Turn! Turn! Roger McGuinn and Jesus

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 24, 2016 and has been revised.


As a young teen, I became a huge fan of the rock group, Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young). I was such a dedicated admirer that I even began exploring the back-catalogs of the members’ previous bands, including David Crosby’s stint with the Byrds. I eventually became a bigger fan of the Byrds than CS&N.

The Byrds came together in 1964 with Jim McGuinn on lead guitar and vocals, Gene Clark on vocals, David Crosby on rhythm guitar and vocals, Chris Hillman on bass, and Michael Clarke on drums. They were all folk musicians who had seen the writing on the wall with the rising tide of Beatlemania and attempted to make the switch to rock ‘n’ roll. Their resulting sound, with the instantly-identifiable, jingle-jangle of McGuinn’s Rickenbacker twelve-string electric guitar and Crosby’s high vocal harmonies, was a unique blend of folk and rock; a synthesis of Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

The Byrds’ first two albums were wildly successful and influential, but the band’s popularity gradually waned as rock music began drifting toward a “heavier” sound. Over the years, band members came and went and by 1968, McGuinn (pronounced mik-gwin) remained as the only founding member. But McGuinn and his hired hands continued to release albums and tour as the Byrds until 1973 when he disbanded the group to begin his solo career.

At the peak of the Byrd’s popularity, McGuinn, a former Roman Catholic, began dabbling in Subud, a form of Eastern religiosity, and subsequently changed his first name from Jim to Roger in 1967 as part of his initiation. The Byrds’ recorded repertoire included a large number of songs with a spiritual theme, which no doubt reflected McGuinn’s restless spiritual search: Turn! Turn! Turn!, 5D, I Am A Pilgrim, The Christian Life, Oil in My Lamp, Jesus Is Just Alright, Glory Glory, and Farther Along.

Drugs were a staple of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and McGuinn was a regular imbiber. By 1977, heavy drug use had brought McGuinn to the lowest point in his life. Elvis Presley’s drug-induced death in August of that year was a wake up call. McGuinn thought to himself, “That could have easily been me.” The Holy Spirit was working in McGuinn’s life and after talking with some Christian friends, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Being a huge Byrds fan at the time (and currently still), I thought McGuinn’s acceptance of Christ and becoming one of those “born-agains” was some very strange and disappointing stuff. Little did I know that the Holy Spirit was using McGuinn’s conversion, along with many other people and things, to also prod me along. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior six years later in 1983.

McGuinn’s witness continued to affect my life. Five years ago (2015), I was reading an online article in which Roger described how he and his wife had a daily devotion time together, during which they read a Psalm, a Proverb, and a chapter from the Old and New Testaments and prayed. My wife and I had never had a daily devotion time together. I suggested it to my wife and she gladly agreed and it’s been a huge blessing in our lives ever since!

At the age of 78, Roger continues to tour and delight audiences. Nobody plays the twelve-string quite like him.

Just one look, back, at the Hollies

It’s time for a little pandemic lockdown frivolity!

The Hollies: Look Through Any Window, 1963-1975
Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2011, 120 minutes

4 Stars

I’ve told the story several times about how I became a fan of Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young) back in 1969 at the age of thirteen. I liked the group so much that I delved into the back catalogs of the members’ previous bands; David Crosby’s Byrds and Steve Stills’ (and Neil Young’s) Buffalo Springfield. To each their own, but of the three amigos, I liked Graham Nash’s songs the least. They were way too heavy on the saccharine for my taste. But being the nerdy completist that I was, I also lightly delved into the back catalog of Nash’s previous band, the Hollies.

During this COVID-19 quarantine, I was looking to fill some time and stumbled across this documentary on Amazon and decided to queue it up on the turntable for a spin for nostalgia’s sake.

Graham Nash and Allan Clarke grew up as grammar school mates in Manchester, England and both had a talent for singing. With the rise of rock and roll, the pair aspired to forming their own band. The duo founded the Hollies in 1962, and after several personnel changes, they cemented their hit-making line-up in 1966 with Clarke as the lead vocalist and frontman, Nash on rhythm guitar (barely) and vocals, Tony Hicks on lead guitar and vocals, Bernie Calvert on bass guitar, and Bobby Elliot on drums. The band had phenomenal success in the U.K.  – 18 Top Ten singles – and to a lesser degree, in the States (6 Top Ten). The Hollies were especially noted for their unique vocal blend with Nash’s high harmonies nicely complementing Clarke’s tenor lead and Hicks rounding out the bottom.

Like the Beatles and most of the other bands that were part of the early years of the British Invasion (1964-1967), the Hollies were strictly a pop band that played songs with simple melodies and simple lyrics for their teeny bopper audiences. But whereas the Beatles and others progressed into more sophisticated musical forms, the Hollies largely stayed in their bubble-gum lane. A frustrated Nash prodded the group to expand their horizons, resulting in the slightly-adventurous albums, “Evolution” (1967) and “Butterfly” (1967), but the increasing tensions caused him to finally part with the band in 1968 and begin his tenure with CSN&Y.

This documentary traces the history of the Hollies from their start to their less-successful, post-Nash years. There’s interesting interviews with Nash, Clarke, Hicks, and Elliot. Twenty-two song performances are included in the video. Some are live and some are lip-synched. The only criticism I have of this documentary is that each song is played in its entirety. Many of the lesser-known songs should have been sampled and the interview segments expanded.

Clarke retired from the band in 2000 and Hicks and Elliot soldier on as the Hollies with journeymen filling the slots. The Hollies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

The Hollies’ 18 U.K. Top Ten singles:

  • 1963 – Stay
  • 1964 – Just One Look – Here I Go Again – We’re Through
  • 1965 – Yes I Will – I’m Alive – Look Through Any Window
  • 1966 – I Can’t Let Go – Bus Stop – Stop, Stop, Stop
  • 1967 – On A Carousel – Carrie-Anne
  • 1968 – Jennifer Eccles
  • 1969 – Sorry Suzanne – He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother
  • 1970 – I Can’t Tell The Bottom From The Top
  • 1974 – The Air That I Breathe
  • 1988 – He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother (re-release)

Three “shoulda been Top Tens”: One of my favorite Hollies songs, “Dear Eloise” (1967), wasn’t released as a single in the U.K. and only made it to #50 in the U.S. Although it performed only modestly in the U.K. (#32), “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” (1971) was a huge #2 hit in the U.S.  The excellent “Long Dark Road” (1972) was released only in the U.S. and peaked at a disappointing #26.

Postscript: As the documentary ends and the closing credits roll, an excellent 1971 rendition of the Hollies singing “Amazing Grace” a capella plays in the background.

Crosby vs. McGuinn: Year 52

I’m not one to pay much attention to soap operas, but I’ve been observing this one for fifty years…

Growing up back in the 1960s, my five older sisters always had a Beatles LP spinning on the turntable. But I eventually blazed my own trail by becoming a fan of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, which led to exploring David Crosby’s back-catalog with the Byrds. I really loved the Byrds with their signature sound of Roger McGuinn’s jingly-jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar complemented by Crosby’s high vocal harmonies. But I also learned there had been tremendous discord in the camp. Laid-back McGuinn was the de facto leader of the group, however, the free-spirited, outspoken Crosby constantly grated against that. As Crosby developed as a songwriter, the conflicts and tensions escalated to the point that McGuinn and Byrds’ bassist, Chris Hillman, drove to Crosby’s house one afternoon in 1967 and fired him from the band.

Crosby went on to bigger things with CS&N, but the resentment and discord never completely healed. By 1969, McGuinn was the only founding band member remaining, but he kept the ersatz Byrds going until 1973. His subsequent solo career achieved only so-so success and he spiraled into heavy drug use. In 1977, at rock-bottom, former-Roman Catholic, McGuinn, accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior! At the time, I remember thinking, “Oh, no! McGuinn has become one of those born-agains!”

McGuinn and Crosby have kept in touch – barely – over the years and participated together in a few (very) short-term projects, however McGuinn keeps a bit of a distance. He has repeatedly resisted Crosby’s MANY overtures to reunite the remaining Byrds (himself, Crosby, and Hillman) for a concert tour. On the occasion of the band’s 50th anniversary in 2015, the Byrds noticeably did not reunite because of McGuinn’s reluctance. McGuinn has explained in a couple of interviews that he declines to be yoked with unbeliever Crosby in another venture (2 Corinthians 6:14). I’m sure that McGuinn deals with many unbelievers in his ongoing solo career, but the thing about Crosby is he’s still very pushy, spews obscenities in his regular conversation, and constantly tokes marijuana.

Despite their differences, McGuinn has had nothing but kind remarks to say to, and about, his former bandmate, but Crosby’s recent documentary, “David Crosby: Remember My Name,” has reopened old wounds. Crosby, who is well-known for his frequent and blunt chatter on Twitter, recently blocked McGuinn from his account. Well, he’s undoubtedly hurt that McGuinn refuses work with him.

The McGuinn-Crosby friendship/feud has been played out in public for 52 years. Why should we even care about this on-again, off-again soap opera? Because it’s an amazing irony. Crosby still crusades for peace, love, and harmony in his songs and tours, but he’s not going to find it outside of Jesus Christ.

Note how the Tweeter below supports Crosby’s decision to block his old bandmate by scoffing at McGuinn for proclaiming Jesus Christ and the Gospel in a tweet he posted back in March:


David Crosby Does Not Want to Read Roger McGuinn’s Tweets