Results for The Byrds

interviews

Steve Wynn

In preparation for this week's guest, Steve Wynn, Jim and Greg do a little primer on the Paisley Underground music scene that developed in California in the 1980s. Jim plays a song by one of the seminal bands of this scene, The 3 O'Clock, whose very psychedelic name was inspired by Tom Wolfe's assertion in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" that if one drops acid in the early evening, the high of the trip will occur at 3:00 a.m. The 3 O'Clock was helmed by Michael Quercio, a musician who started as a punk rocker. After discovering psychedelic rock, however, his sound, and his look, began to change. It was Cuercio's affinity for the music of the '60s, as well as the brightly colored paisley clothes, that gave this scene its name. While the name did not do the music justice, the influence of the Paisley Underground on contemporary bands like Oasis and The Secret Machines is undeniable.

It may surprise to listeners who are only familiar with "Walk Like an Egyptian," but The Bangles were also pioneers of the Paisley Underground. Their original sound, with its three- and four-part harmonies and sing-songy melodies, paralleled that of The Mamas and the Papas and The Byrds. Lead singer Susanna Hoffs continues to work in this genre; she and '90s indie pop star Matthew Sweet just released a 1960s covers album featuring songs by The Left Banke, The Beach Boys and The Who.

Greg points out that the Paisley Underground sound was not a homogenous one — in fact, what bonded these bands was a punk sensibility that welcomed other musical styles. Unlike many other punk bands at the time, these acts didn't see why they had to conform to a strict policy of three-minute, Ramones-style songs. And what's more punk rock than non-conformity? One band that went above and beyond its punk and psychedelic influences was The Long Ryders. They took more of a country approach and can be seen as pioneers of the alternative country scene that now houses bands like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and The Bottle Rockets.

The Rain Parade is the next Paisley Underground band up for discussion. While the members of The Rain Parade never saw the major label success like their peers in The Bangles or The 3 O'Clock (who were signed to Prince's Paisley Park label), many went on to work on successful projects. David Robeck formed the band Mazzy Star, which had an alternative hit single with "Fade Into You" in 1993 and Matt Piucci went on to work with Crazy Horse. The remaining bandmates reincarnated themselves as Viva Saturn.

Greg plays a song featuring this week's guest, Steve Wynn. His band The Dream Syndicate was a group that both Jim and Greg became fans of in the early '80s. They emerged in LA as one of the pioneers of the Paisley Underground sound. Steve then released a number of solo records and has spent the last few years with his most recent band, The Miracle 3. Steve and his band members, Linda Pitmon, Dave DeCastro and Kirk Swan, joined Jim and Greg for an interview and performance at the Chicago Recording Company.

The Dream Syndicate never made it into the 1990s, but its innovative sound continued to influence artists. While other LA bands at the time, like Black Flag, Social Distortion and Bad Religion, were making post-punk and punk music with a really hard edge, The Dream Syndicate stuck to a swirlier, psychedelic pop sound. For this reason, Jim and Greg explain, no matter how many solo projects he embarks on, our guest will most likely always be remembered as the lead singer of The Dream Syndicate.

After playing a track from Days of Wine and Roses, which Greg calls one of the masterpieces of the Paisley Underground era, our host asks Steve about the chemistry between two guitarists. In this case, Steve's partner in guitar is Kirk Swan, who was in another innovative '80s indie pop band, Dumptruck, Steve responds that the basic formula of guitar, drums, and bass is simple, but never gets old. He points to bands like Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Television as examples.

Jim asks Steve about why he continues on in this business after so many years. As Steve jokes on his website, this new album is one of several“comebacks,”but music is not such an easy life to come back to. After being pegged the“new Springsteen,”Steve and the band had somewhat of a difficult time. He explains how that hurt the band (and indirectly how he hurt Jim one drunken night). Thankfully they both came out on the other side.

Go to episode 21

Hal Blaine of The Wrecking Crew

halblainealbum Hal Blaine may not be a household name, but if rock ‘n’ roll is all about the beat, then the 86-year-old drummer is arguably one of the biggest rock stars alive. It's his stamp you hear on some of the biggest records of the 1960's and early '70s. He recorded with Elvis, The Mamas and the Papas, Sam Cooke, Simon & Garfunkel, The Carpenters, Jan and Dean and even Barbra Streisand. That's 38 chart-toppers to be exact, and over 5,000 songs. So if we're comparing successful outputs, that really makes his only rival The Beatles!

Of course the idea of a session musician is something we're familiar with today, but many listeners can probably still remember their own revelation that their favorite acts might not have played their own songs. You expect that of The Monkees, but The Beach Boys? The Byrds? Many of their songs were actually recorded by Hal Blaine and The Wrecking Crew – a loose organization of California studio players whose members included Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Earl Palmer and more. There was an unspoken pact to keep their hit-making machine a secret, but as time has gone on, they've gotten their due. Hal Blaine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and last month saw the release of The Wrecking Crew, a new documentary directed by Denny Tedesco, son of crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco.

Go to episode 488

Mike Heidorn of Uncle Tupelo

You can trace alternative country's roots to the 1960's when rock musicians such as Gram Parsons, The Byrds and the Flatlanders began dabbling with and reinvigorating country music. It was part of a wider investigation of American roots music in rock, a move toward more“authentic”styles. These rockers looked to country greats like Hank Williams, The Carter Family, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard for inspiration — Bob Dylan famously collaborated with Cash on "Girl From the North Country." In the '70s and early '80s, a new generation of punk rockers started digging into traditional country for inspiration, including X, The Mekons, Rank & File, Jason and the Scorchers and the Long Ryders. Then third wave of alt country hit in the late '80s and early '90s, led by The Jayhawks out of Minneapolis and Uncle Tupelo, the trio of Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidorn, out of Belleville, Illinois, just outside St. Louis. Uncle Tupelo's debut album,“No Depression,”took its name from a Carter Family song, "No Depression in Heaven," and it's one of many the key albums in defining the alt-country movement of this era. We have this band to thank for groups like Farrar's Son Volt, Tweedy's Wilco, Ryan Adams' Whiskeytown, the Drive-By-Truckers and the Old 97's …and not to mention No Depression Magazine. Legacy Recordings recently reissued No Depression, complete with some never before released demo tracks from 1987 to 1989. And to talk about it, Jim and Greg are joined by Uncle Tupelo's founding drummer Mike Heidorn.

Go to episode 442
specials

Box Set Gift Suggestions

This episode of Sound Opinions isn't all negative. Jim and Greg also provide you with some holiday gift suggestions for the music lover in your life. They recommend wrapping up the following box sets:

  • The Clash: The Singles
  • What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977)
  • Rockin‘ Bones: ’50s Punk & Rockabilly
  • Jerry Lee Lewis: A Half Century of Hits
  • Tommy Boy Presents Hip Hop Essentials

Here are some other box sets to check out:

  • Steve Reich, Phases: A Nonesuch Retrospective
  • Gram Parsons, The Complete Reprise Sessions
  • Buddy Guy, Can't Quit the Blues
  • Waylon Jennings, Nashville Rebel
  • The Byrds, There is a Season
  • Various Artists, A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box
  • The Pretenders, Pirate Radio
  • Tori Amos, A Piano: The Collection
  • The Bee Gees, The Studio Albums, 1967-1968
  • Robert Plant, Nine Lives
  • David Crosby, Voyage

And for DVD fans:

  • Michael Franti, I Know I'm Not Alone
  • Nirvana, Live! Tonight! Sold Out!
  • Jeff Tweedy, Sunken Treasure: Live in the Pacific Northwest
Go to episode 52
dijs

Jim

“The Ballad of Easy Rider”The Byrds

It's Jim's turn to add a song he can't live without to the Desert Island Jukebox this week. He honors iconic actor Dennis Hopper, who died last week at age 74. Hopper not only directed classic movies like Easy Rider, he chose their soundtracks. So for his track, Jim chooses "The Ballad of Easy Rider." The version in the film features a solo performance by Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, but Jim prefers the version by the whole band.

Go to episode 236

Jim & Greg

“The Red Telephone”Love

Last week, Arthur Lee, the singer and guitarist for the psychedelic rock band Love, died of leukemia at the age of 61. Jim and Greg explain how Lee was one of the most important figures of the psychedelic era. He influenced bands like The Doors, The Byrds, and even the other great African-American psychedelic rocker of the day: Jimi Hendrix. His masterpiece, Forever Changes, also influenced contemporary "orchestral pop" artists like The Arcade Fire and The Polyphonic Spree. Lee was a pioneer, but a largely unheralded one. This may have been the musician's own doing, since he was a rather dark, eccentric figure. But, while Lee certainly had many troubled years, Jim and Greg believe his music deserves to be celebrated. To pay tribune to Arthur Lee, our hosts highlight a song off of Forever Changes. They both add "The Red Telephone" to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 37
lists

Best Cover Songs

In the age of karaoke and“American Idol,”it's easy to forget how great a cover song can be. But, as Jim and Greg discuss, an artist's interpretation of someone else's song can often be better than the original. In those cases, the performer brings passion and a new spin to a song. During the course of the show, Jim and Greg run down their picks for best cover songs. (For an even longer list of noteworthy cover songs, go to the thread on the Sound Opinions Message Board.)

Go to episode 79

Unconventional Love Songs

It's easy to get overloaded with sugar on Valentine's Day, especially when it comes to love songs. So Jim and Greg welcome an antidote: Unconventional Love Songs. Here are their favorite, slightly off-kilter love songs.

  • The Byrds, "Triad"
  • Concrete Blonde, "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)"
  • Velvet Underground, "Venus in Furs"
  • The Beatles, "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"
  • Black Sabbath, "Sweet Leaf"
  • Alice in Chains, "Junkhead"
  • Lester Bangs & The Delinquents, "I'm In Love with My Walls"
  • Neil Young, "Will to Love"
Go to episode 168
features

Instrumental: Rickenbacker Electric 12-String Guitar

Rickenbacker 12-string This week, we kick off a new feature called Instrumental where we examine the history of iconic instruments of rock. We start with the electric 12-string guitar and its most famous manufacturer, Rickenbacker. After the acoustic 12-string guitar was popularized by blues artists like Lead Belly and by the '60s folk revival, Rickenbacker began making an electrified version. After George Harrison used it on The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night," a 12-string craze began. The most notable adopter of the instrument was Jim (later Roger) McGuinn , who used it to define the sound of The Byrds on tracks like "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" The Beatles and The Byrds set the template for countless bands in the ensuing decades who used 12-strings, from power pop acts like Raspberries and Big Star, to jangle pop bands like R.E.M. and The Bangles, to contemporary artists like Temples.

To help discuss and demonstrate the Rickenbacker electric 12-string, we're joined by Daniel Escauriza and Shelby Pollard of Chicago Music Exchange. Jim and Greg also offer their favorite examples of Rick-heavy songs: "Awaken" by Yes and XTC's "All of a Sudden (It's Too Late)."

Go to episode 601

Hooked On Sonics: Neil Halstead of Slowdive

Neil Halstead Our latest installment of our Hooked on Sonics series features Neil Halstead – singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the English shoegaze band Slowdive. Slowdive recently reunited and released their first album since 1995. Halstead describes being blown away when he heard the leadoff track from an EP by a shoegaze progenitor: My Bloody Valentine's "You Made Me Realise." Combining Byrds-like harmonies with a sonic assault, the song forever changed his musical life.

Go to episode 608