On this date, June 21st 1965, the Byrds released Mr. Tambourine Man, which marked the beginning of the folk -rock revolution. Written by Bob Dylan, it is the only time a Bobby song ever reached #1 on the U.S.pop charts. Rodger (” don’t call me Jim”, even though that’s the name he started his career with) McGuinn aimed at crossing the vocal style of Bob Dylan and John Lennon and with the harmonies of Gene Clark and Dave Crosby ( I’ve had a mustache longer than Dave and I am not sure that’s a good thing) and Rodg’s ” Jingle-Jangle ” sound on his 12 string Rickenbacker. Mr. Tambourine Man became a huge hit. Newly signed to Columbia Records, the Byrds had access to an early demo version of M.T.M. even before their label mate Bobby D. had a chance to record it for his own upcoming album. Was Bob pissed? ” Wow, man, you can even dance to that!” said Bob without his wintry scowl.
The other big hit of the Byrds is Turn, Turn, Turn. Another ” borrowed song”. This one from the folk icon Pete Seeger with the lyrics drawn from ” Ecclesiastes” in the Old Testament. Wow, Let’s party!
Currently, Rodger can be found as “The Ringer” in the Rock Bottom Remainders, a group composed of writers Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan ( Joy Luck Club), Scott Turow ( Presumed Innocent ), Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie), Matt Groening ( Simpsons creator ) and a few others. They play around for charity and are rumored to be calling it a day very soon. Bruce Springsteen once joined them on background vocals and remarked ” that they shouldn’t get any better because then they would be just another lousy band.”
The Byrds rendition is great stuff, but for me I prefer the version by Bill Shatner. Groove.