Roger McGuinn of The Byrds played a solo gig June 12, 2014, at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA.
Hearing Brian Wilson sing “Surfer Girl” in concert.
Listening to America’s Gerry Beckley from the fifth row as he sings “Sister Golden Hair. ”
Seeing Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers rock out to “China Grove.”
Hearing great songs in person sung in their original versions by the artists who made them famous has always appealed to me. And now I can cross another one off my list: Hearing Roger McGuinn of The Byrds sing “Mr. Tambourine Man” in person.
I know it’s a Bob Dylan song. And certainly one can argue that hearing Bob Dylan sing it would be hearing “Mr. Tambourine Man” in its original form. Dylan released the song in March 1965 and The Byrds’ version was released in April 1965.
But it’s the harmonies of McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby – and the birth of what we now know as “folk rock” – on The Byrds version of the song that I remember from my childhood.
So it was a real kick to hear McGuinn sing it Thursday, June 12, 2014, at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, nearly 50 years after the song was first released by The Byrds.
These days, it’s just McGuinn and his guitars on stage. And that’s enough. He did two, 45-minutes sets at the Colonial. McGuinn is a great storyteller, and not only with his song lyrics. Throughout the performance he prefaced almost every song with a story explaining the genesis of the song. To me, that’s gold for those artists who have been around for decades – to mix in the actual history of the songs that have become historic.
That’s the premise behind “The Vinyl Dialogues” – to get the accurate historical details and perspectives about albums and songs directly from the artists who made that history.
It would be great to get McGuinn on the record for Volume II of “The Vinyl Dialogues.” I like his 1976 solo album, “Cardiff Rose.”
McGuinn was just coming off Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder Revue” tour in 1975 and I’ve love to hear the details of the creative process that he was experiencing in the lead-up to the making and release of “Cardiff Rose.” McGuinn touched on that a little bit when he told a story during the Colonial performance about how he got Joni Mitchell’s song “Dreamland” to include on “Cardiff Rose.”
Living, breathing rock and roll history in a live concert. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Unless you’ve got the vinyl, of course.