Friday, June 2, 2017

McQ's #61 Song Of 1967 - SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK 'N' ROLL STAR - The Byrds

Coming in at #61 in our best songs of 1967 rankings, one of the first rock 'n' roll songs to go full on meta, The Byrds' So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star.

Released in January 1967 as the lead single for the band's soon to follow fourth LP Younger Than Yesterday, the song charted well in the United Kingdom, but didn't make much of a dent in the States.

Some attritibuted this failure to reach an audience in America to the song's bitter, ironic tone, a perception heightened by the widely held belief that that the song was a specific, cynical reaction to the rapid-fire ascent of the pre-frabricated Monkees. But in interviews over the years, while never dismissing The Monkees angles, the band has suggested other inspirations might also have been at work.

On the dark side, by this point in their careers, the band had been near the top of the game for over three years, so to them the song was as much about dealing with the pressures of staying on top after having already achieved success as it was about skewering the 1967 pop scene.

And on the lighter side, they've also referenced a 1966 moment when paging through a rock and roll magazine where they realized they hardly recognized anyone being profiled, and encouraged by all the rising enthusiasm for contemporary music, also wrote the song as a genuine, albiet humorously toned, nudge to all those future rock 'n' rollers eager to get in the game.

But whatever your own interpretation of the song, it's hard to deny the track its place, with Chris Hillman's insistent, innovative-for-the-times baseline, high in the upper-tier of the band's canon.

The song was also the band's first to incorporate brass into their sound, courtesy of South African Hugh Masekela, whom Hillman had been working with on a separate project at the time.

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