Wednesday, September 24, 2008

John Riley

"This song tells the story of a prospective suitor who asks a woman whether she will go with him. She replies that she cannot - she is betrothed to John Riley, who has gone over the seas. He persists, asking her whether Riley is worth waiting for - that he may be drowned, dead in the war, or married to another woman. She maintains that she will continue to wait for him, irrespective of his possible fate. In the last stanza, the suitor reveals that he is John Riley, returned from the seas, and has been testing his beloved."

That was taken from Wikipedia.

I've been listening to The Byrds a lot lately. There are so many layers to this amazing band that it never gets boring. One song that has been in heavy rotation is "Lady Friend," an absolutely gorgeous hidden gem written by David Crosby.

This description of "Lady Friend" is courtesy of "Fillmore's Attic."

“Lady Friend” is spazzy, rollicking folk-rock blitz of dead-on harmony and progressive chord changes which defy their standard blend of Rock. A trumpeting interlude only briefly gaps the wispy 2 minute blast of psychedelic fog. For whatever reason this track never made it on Younger Than Yesterday.

My buddy Steve over at Power Pop hipped me to a rare remix with a new drum track that is stunning. Thanks for that, Steve. (go check out Power Pop, when you are finished here at Burning Wood)

But a song that I keep going back to is "John Riley," from the "Fifth Dimension" album. The story could make the toughest man weep, the patented McGuinn guitar sound is right up front, and the sweeping string arangement paints a most vivid picture of Riley and his fair young maiden. I can't get enough of this song.

An epic in 3 minutes.

Listen and get swept away HERE


Tony said...

Where can one find this remix of "Lady Friend"?

cmealha said...

I listened and it was truly awful. Sounds like part of a soundtrack from a 60's movie where the hip director is trying to capture that hippie vibe. Might be nice lyrically but the music does not hold up. Other than that it was ok ;D

Sal Nunziato said...

Well...Carl...let's just see if YOU were lost at sea how you would feel.

Anonymous said...

In 2005, Sundazed released a double vinyl Byrds 10-inch, ANOTHER DIMENSION, containing two previously unreleased versions of "John Riley" from the FIFTH DIMENSION sessions: "Instrumental - Take 2" and a "completed early master, no string overdubs." This same Sundazed release includes a superb version of "Wild Mountain Thyme" also labeled "completed early master, no string overdubs." I commend ANOTHER DIMENSION to Byrds fans everywhere (if it's still in print).

Fielding said...

Always liked the freaky rhythm track - it's so frantic compared to the somewhat mellow delivery of the vocals...makes me as sad as a clam after the lemon juice and cocktail sauce-

Anonymous said...

And of course there is the lyrical genius of "what if he's drownded in the deep, soft sea..."