By Jim Fusco:
Okay, really obscure territory here on the music blog.
When my family was getting into the music of the Byrds back in 2000, we really went head-first and listened to every album they made throughout the 60s. Some were better than others because you could tell they were doing a lot of growing up, musically. Plus, many of their later-60s songs were very drug-tinged.
After Gene Clark left the band in late ’65 or early ’66, the band came out with one of their worst efforts, “5D”. I still liked most of the songs, but the playing was sloppy and they were high as a kite.
When we got to the superb “Younger Than Yesterday” LP (on Jim Fusco’s list of “Albums You Should Listen To”), I instantly gravitated to the songs of young Chris Hillman, bassist for the band. He is an amazing bass player, mostly because he was an accomplished mandolin and guitar player, so he took his soloing skills over to the bass for the Byrds.
I love his voice- it’s just so natural. There’s no weird accent. He doesn’t say the words in an odd way. He just sounds good, you know? His voice is nice and clear and I was happy that he was getting a chance to write more music for the Byrds. And, like in most bands, the songwriter usually sings his own original songs, so I was happier the more we listened to Byrds songs.
He wrote some of my absolute favorites: “Thoughts and Words”, “Have You Seen Her Face”, and “Time Between”, just to name a few. I plan on doing all of them in the future.
But for now, I give you this song off of “Younger Than Yesterday”, “The Girl With No Name”. It was a lot of fun to play and is a very short song. It’s funny that such a sweet sounding song was probably still influenced by drugs. I’m just guessing here, but “The girl who had no name” could mean a couple things: For starters, maybe this lady lived on one of those hippie communes where they said, “Hey man, why do I need to be labeled with a name? Can’t I just BE?” That’s a possibility. The other possibility, to me, could be that Hillman just didn’t bother asking for a name. Whether he was under the influence of something that impaired his judgement at the time is something only he can attest to.
I think the Byrds are a great band to do acoustic cover song versions of. Their songs had an interesting style. You could almost tell that they wrote their original songs on acoustic guitar and then found a way to translate them into the psychedelic sound of the time. “The Girl With No Name” is pretty straight-forward, so my acoustic version here for the music blog stays true to the original. That’s another reason why I love doing the Laptop Sessions video blog. In addition to reimagining popular songs acoustically, I like taking obscure songs and playing them for the world. They’re great songs and they deserve some fresh attention.
I’m gearing up for next week’s big “#1 Week”, in which (other than Original Wednesday) we’ll be playing only cover songs that hit Number One on the Billboard charts. Stay tuned for other great specialty weeks of cover song music videos coming soon, too!