#887: 1966, The Byrds, Eight Miles High

by George_East on April 23, 2014

In my last Song To Learn and Sing, The Three Johns’ Death of the European, I wrote about the importance of the independent record shop in my musical education in my teen years in the mid to late 1980s, as places where I was able to pick up the records that John Peel was playing on his show back then.

The other thing that came with that period though was getting into the bands that were the big influences of the best music of the time.  The classic pre-Madchester indie scene, what is often called the C86 scene from the free tape that was released in 1986 by the NME featuring many of the top indie bands at the time,  was heavily influenced by two bands in particular: the dark discordant sounds of the Velvet Underground and the 12 string melodies of The Byrds.  All decent bands at the time pretty much seemed to draw on the primary influence of one or the other.

The Byrds were also a huge influence on the haircuts of the indie acts of the time.  In 1986 you could barely move for Byrds’ haircuts. One of my best mates at school at the time had a full on Roger McGuinn bowl cut.   I was never that brave – sticking with a floppy fringed short back and sides modelled on the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Jim Reid (a Velvet Underground by way of Phil Spector girl group kind of band).

We’ve had plenty of the Velvets in Songs to Learn and Sing over the nearly 900 songs posted thus far.  Embarrassingly though we have hitherto had only one Byrds song.    That is being put right tonight – this is a song that I first heard by way of the Husker Du cover version (itself a fabulous track).  It is one of the great examples of the harmonies and 12 string glories of the Byrds mark 1.   It is also (along with the BeatlesLucy In the Sky With Diamonds), one of the great ‘it’s not about drugs, honest’ songs of all time –  it’s just about approaching London in an aeroplane, apparently.  I’ll leave you to make up your own mind…

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike Killingworth April 24, 2014 at 8:15 am

Wonderful stuff. Especially to us old fogies. Many thanks for listing it.

One good turn deserves another – I’m still getting over the ‘Head in the Hall last Sunday so here’s another wonderful folkie (apologies if I’ve puffed her before):



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