Welcome To AlbumLinerNotes.com
"The #1 Archive of Liner Notes in the World"

Your Subtitle text
Younger Than Yesterday


The Byrds
Younger Than Yesterday

Columbia Legacy
CK 64848


Fame And Misfortune:
The End of The First Golden Era

David Fricke, 1996

“We were just looking through the teen magazines, noticing how many people were rock & roll stars. And we thought that everybody should have a list of ingredients – like a kit – so more people could become rock & roll stars.”
– Roger McGuinn.*
Swedish Radio, 1967

Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman packed every cheap cliché about overnight rock & roll stardom into their glorious two-minute grenade “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”: the quickie guitar lessons, great hair and tight pants; the slick booking agent and record company execs that take you to the cleaners and sell your soul like it’s so much soap flake; the screaming teenage fillies. But a cliché is really just a truism that has become painfully, tiresomely obvious – and McGuinn and Hillman were all too familiar with how they became stars themselves.

McGuinn bought his first 12-string Rickenbacker guitar after seeing George Harrison play one in A Hard Day’s Night. Hillman, who was born with corkscrew curls, had to actually iron his hair to achieve that immaculate, flaxen, pudding-bowl effect. The Faustian terms of the Byrds’ contract with Columbia had the band cranking out records at assembly-line velocity. When Younger Than Yesterday (originally titled Sanctuary) hit the Billboard Top 40 in late April of 1967, peaking at a disappointing Number 24, the Byrds’ vinyl tally was four albums and nine singles in only two years. As for the shrieking girls, the ones heard on “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” were quite real – genuine Byrdmaniacs taped by publicists Derek Taylor at a show during the band’s 1965 English tour. (The high, blazing trumpet flourishes were played by the South African émigré Hugh Masekela).

For all of its twangy sass and playful smarm, “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” was a song of deeper, implicit irony. As the Byrds knew quite well, making the big time isn’t the hard part. They had “Mr. Tambourine Man” to thank for their own sudden, good fortune. But staying sane, in the game, ahead of the curve – that was the rough stuff, and it was never truer in rock & roll than during the mad crush of young genius that characterized the mid-1960s. The Byrds came of age as a band and as pop stars at the time when the charts were crowded with revolutionary brilliance, when the standards of art and commerce were being raised, rewritten and wrung into fresh logic on a daily basis by, among others, Bob Dylan, Phil Spector, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Brian Wilson; in the Detroit song-factory offices of Motown and the Stax Records’ soul kitchen in Memphis; in Londons’ blues pubs and the neighborhood dance halls of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. In that kind of fast company, great success begat greater expectations, good friendships belied fierce rivalries. Young people made records; many of those records made history. It was a great time to be in the music business – and a hell of a time for the Byrds to be falling apart.

Formed more out of common ambition than brotherly love, the Byrds’ original brain trust of McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby barely lasted three years. Clark was gone by the spring of ’66, after only two albums, and Crosby was fired by McGuinn and Hillman in October, 1967 after a long, nearly fatal war of wills. Although there would be another couple of singles (Crosby is also a significant, albeit uncredited, presence on The Notorious Byrd Brothers), Younger Than Yesterday was Crosby’s last official album with the Byrds and, as such, marked the end of the band’s first golden era. In many ways, it is also the best of those first four albums, a brilliant demonstration of strength through versatility and argumentative diversity. Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn! Are more single-minded in style and Fifth Dimension is a bold, often beautiful record characterized by vivid imagination and daredevil nerve. But Younger Than Yesterday shows the classic, mid-‘60s Byrds in full, mature command of their powers, writing and performing with clarity, authority and – considering the emerging egos at work – unity. All of which, unfortunately, was obscured by the windfall of epochal rock albums that spring and summer: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Surrealistic Pillow, The Doors, Are You Experienced?

All but one of the 11 songs on the original 12-inch release of Younger Than Yesterday were cut in the Byrds’ most work-intensive sessions to date, an 11-day whirlwind running from November 28 to December 8, 1966. (The last track was a leftover from February ’66, the Byrds’ third and, by a thin margin, least successful stab at the bracing Eastern intrigue of “Why.” The first two tries – the December ’65 take from RCA Studios and the January ’66 version used on the flipside of “Eight Miles High” – are both available on Fifth Dimension CD). With the exception of Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages,” pulled from the bard’s 1964 album Another Side Of Bob Dylan and reconfigured (like “Mr. Tambourine Man”) by the Byrds into 4/4 time, the new songs were all originals.

But like the Beatles'' famed White Album, a sprawling document of four strong wills bound together by stubborn fraternity, Younger Than Yesterday was a record of individual, highly competitive voices – McGuinn, Crosby and the suddenly prolific Hillman – charged by the very energies that were slowly tearing them apart. Hillman channeled his early bluegrass experience and new melodic poise into the high-stepping Britpop vigor of “Have You Seen Her Face” and “The Girl With No Name.” “Renaissance Fair” was two minutes of utter perfection, Crosby’s wistful lyricism, the church bell peal of the guitars and Hillman’s gently loping bass blending into a radiant evocation of the sights, sounds and smells of a medieval festival, and by extension the sensual idealism of the hippie dream.

Yet there was little collaborative writing; Crosby later disputed McGuinn’s co-credit for “Renaissance Fair” and McGuinn wrote his alien-radio-message scenario “C.T.A. – 102” with an old pre-Byrds buddy, Bob Hippard, who had once gotten McGuinn a solo gig at the Troubadour in L.A. Also, the tone of many of the songs recorded for Younger Than Yesterday was startlingly somber and reflective: the emotional betrayal in Hillman’s “Thoughts And Words”; the simple, elegant expressions of hopelessness, loss and guarded optimism in Crosby’s ravishing ballads “Everybody’s Been Burned” and the Younger outtake “It Happens Each Day.”

Even the Dylan song was one of cautious renewal and self-critical review – “Good and bad, I defined these terms/Quite clear, no doubt, somehow/But I was so much older than/I’m younger than that now.” “He’s protesting protest songs,” McGuinn quipped about “My Back Pages” in that ’67 Swedish broadcast, “This is a song,” he said a bit more seriously years later, “about the wisdom that comes with experience.”

The Byrds did their learning the hard way. It was a very different band (make that “bands”) that went on to make The Notorious Byrd Brothers and Sweetheart Of The Rodeo over the next twelve months. But if the original Byrds did not survive their initial success, proving (as if more proof was needed) that rock & roll stardom isn’t all cracked up to be, the undiminished power and vitality of Younger Than Yesterday reaffirms another old cliché – that making hit records and making history aren’t always the same thing.

Jim McGuinn – 12-string guitar, vocals
David Crosby – Rhythm guitar, vocals
Chris Hillman – Bass guitar, vocals
Michael Clark – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Hugh Masekela – Horns
Vern Gosdin – Acoustic guitar
Clarence White – Electric guitar

All tracks originally produced by Gary Usher


1. So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star
(R. McGuinn – C. Hillman)
Rec. Date: 11/28/66
Stereo (2:05)

The Byrds returned to the U.S. Top 30 with this sardonic commentary on the record industry’s manipulation of manufactured pop groups. At the time of the single’s release, the Monkees were all the rage and Chris Hillman admits he had them in mind when he co-wrote the lyrics. The incorporation of brass, courtesy of Hugh Masekela, gave the song even greater power. As a novelty treat, publicist Derek Taylor provided a tape of some screaming girls. “They were good British screams,” he notes. “I taped them from a show at Bournemouth during the 1965 English tour.”

2. Have You Seen Her Face

(C. Hillman)
Rec. Date: 11/29/66
Stereo (2:40)

Chris Hillman’s emergence as a singer/songwriter was one of the surprise highlights of the album. This song was strong enough to appear on a single and featured some striking guitar work from McGuinn set against some forthright music/lyrics which Hillman completed immediately after attending a session with Hugh Masekela.

3. C.T.A. – 102
(R. McGuinn – R.J. Hippard)
Rec. Date: 12/1/66
Stereo (2:28)

Co-written by McGuinn and his science-fiction minded songwriting partner R.J. Hippard, this was another attempt at “space rock,” complete with gimmicky effects and simulated alien voices. McGuinn obviously enjoys tinkering with an oscillator, speaking into miked-up headphones and banging a piano pedal with his fist in order to creat the desired sounds. Beneath the novelty, there is a genuine wide-eyed love of science and astronomy, which McGuinn expressed by talking enthusiastically about the existence of quasars. He was immensely flattered when a radio astronomer included a sly reference to the Byrds in an article in The Astrophysical Journal.

4. Renaissance Fair
(D. Crosby – R. McGuinn)
Rec. Date: 12/6/66
Stereo (1:51)

Credited to McGuinn/Crosby, this was primarily David’s song and was written about his experiences at the Renaissance Fair, a mock medieval festival, sponsored by an L.A. radio station. Musically and lyrically, it was Crosby’s most impressive work to date, full of sensual imagery and shifting time signatures. Hillman’s melodic bass work is also in evidence, indicating the extent to which he had matured over four albums.

5. Time Between
(C. Hillman)
Rec. Date: 11/30/66
Stereo (1:53)

This was the first song Chris Hillman ever wrote and it’s hard to imagine a more impressive debut. There is a confidence in his lyrical playfulness and grasp of easy melody that betrays years of experience. The only wonder is that he took so long to commit pen to paper. Evidence of the enduring quality of this song was underlined by its reappearance 20 years later by Hillman’s Desert Rose Band. Here, the sinewy lead guitar work is provided by Byrd-in-waiting Clarence White, who would become a full-time member of the group just before Hillman himself quit in 1968.

6. Everybody’s Been Burned

(D. Crosby)
Rec. Date: 12/7/66
Stereo (3:05)

One of the greatest Byrds tracks and Crosby’s finest composition to date. McGuinn’s solo is spine-tingling while Hillman’s melodic bass playing is compelling. “Christopher did a real good job on that. I was really pleased with it,” Crosby enthused. Although rightly acclaimed as a crucial step forward in terms of sophistication, it should not be forgotten that the song came from an earlier era, before the Byrds even existed. Manager Jim Dickson: “He wrote that before he met McGuinn … I used to have tapes of David doing it on his own. It’s a nightclub ballad song that would have fit into the late ‘50/early ‘60s … A girl torch singer would be the one to sing the hell out of that song, somebody with a lot of feeling. The way that David sings that ballad is similar to a girl singer. It doesn’t have the aggression of Sinatra. It’s gentle, it’s reaching for a shared experience.”

7. Thoughts And Words
(C. Hillman)
Rec. Date: 12/6/66
Stereo (2:56)

Arguably Hillman’s finest solo composition, this song fused two disparate musical genres, sounding at once like a romantic pop song and an LSD-influenced reflection on human relationships. Hillman credits McGuinn and producer Gary Usher for inserting the eerie sitar-like sound of guitars played backwards which enhance the mood so effectively.

8. Mind Gardens
(D. Crosby)
Rec. Date: 11/30/66
Stereo (3:46)

Crosby had to fight hard to include this atonal allegory on the album. In many ways, it displayed the most adventurous and excessive aspects of his songwriting, while the 12-string guitars, taped backwards, placed the song loosely in the raga-rock tradition. Crosby nevertheless challenged such classifications:

“‘Mind Gardens’ had nothing to do with ragas or rock. It had to do with the words. And they’re good. It was excessive. They’re just good words. However, it was unusual and not everybody could understand it because they’d never heard anything like it before. At the tie everything was supposed to have rhyme and have rhythm. And it neither rhymed nor had rhythm, so it was outside of their experience.”

9. My Back Pages
(B. Dylan)
Rec. Date: 12/5/66
Stereo (3:08)

One of Jim Dickson’s parting shots as a creative force in the Byrds was to persuade McGuinn to record Dylan’s famous farewell to his role as a folk crusader. In the Byrd’s hands it symbolizes an awareness of their changing fortunes in the rock world as well as recalling some of their greatest moments as folk-rock innovations. McGuinn delicately changes to the song from 3/4 to 4/4 time and throws in one of his most memorable and economical guitar solos and startling effect.

10. The Girl With No Name

(C. Hillman)
Rec. Date: 12/8/66
Stereo (1:50)

Beneath the jaunty musical backing, which again features guest guitarist Clarence White, Hillman relates a restrained, yet bitter, narrative about a failed relationship. The anonymous girl in the title was in fact a real person: Girl Freiberg.

11. Why

(R. McGuinn – D. Crosby)
Rec. Date: 2/21/66
Stereo (2:45)

For once, a seemingly straightforward conclusion to a Byrds album, until you examine the circumstances. The song was already over a year old, having appeared in different form as the B-side to “Eight Miles High.” Despite having more interesting material in reserve, Crosby insisted upon resurrecting the track. Although this take has greater clarity than the single version, it sounds tamer without McGuinn’s famous sitar-sounding guitar break and Hillman’s gulping bass lines.


12. It Happens Each Day
(D. Crosby)
Rec. Date: 12/8/66
Rel: Columbia C4K 46773 (The Byrds Box Set)
Stereo (2:44)

13. Don’t Make Waves

(R. McGuinn/C. Hillman)
Rec. Date: 4/26/67
Rel: Columbia 45 4-44157
Stereo (1:36)

14. My Back Pages
(alternate version)
(B. Dylan)
Rec. Date: 12/5/66
Previously unissued.
Stereo (2:42)

15. Mind Gardens
(alternate version)
(D. Crosby)
Rec. Date: 11/30/66
Previously unissued
Stereo (3:17)

16. Lady Friend
(D. Crosby)
Rec. Date: 4/26/67 and 6/14/67
Rel: Columbia 45 4-44230
Stereo (1:59)

The Byrds were at the peak of their creativity during and immediately after the recording of this album. The six bonus tracks featured here ably display their contrasting talents. David Crosby flourished as a songwriter during this period, a view reinforced by the discovery of “It Happens Each Day,” a startling composition featuring his now familiar use of sea imagery. Remarkably, this song lay dormant for over 20 years and Crosby subsequently helped remix the tape, and allowed Chris Hillman to add some additional acoustic guitar.

“Don’t Make Waves” was a quick B-side that McGuinn and Hillman wrote for inclusion in the movie of the same name. An alternate take was issued on an MGM soundtrack. Banal by their standards, the song was obviously never considered as a contender for any of their albums. Crosby’s sarcastic riposte, “Let’s double it – masterpiece” was edited out of the original recording but is included here as an example of his wicked humor.

The alternate “My Back Pages” is a story in itself. At one point, Gary Usher had written on the master “original single version,” including that this version was initially scheduled for release. This intriguing mix features the organ more prominently, plus a startling guitar solo from McGuinn played through a Leslie cabinet which literally transforms the song.

Another alternate take follows with “Mind Gardens,” which offers the opportunity to hear a less intense, more relaxed reading of the song with Crosby’s vocal clearer in the mix.

In the interim between Younger Than Yesterday and The Notorious Byrd Brothers, the group recorded Crosby’s groundbreaking “Lady Friend,” which was issued as a single. “They would put it on the album,” Crosby noted with regret. A stereo version is included here, alongside its US B-side, the McGuinn/Hillman composition “Old John Robertson.” The latter would later be featured on The Notorious Byrd Brothers boasting a substantially different mix with added phrasing.

- Song notes by Johnny Rogan, 1996
Author of Timeless Flight:
The Definitive Biography Of The Byrds

*Byrdnote: Roger McGuinn was born James Joseph McGuinn III but changed his name during his involvement with Subud, an Indonesian religion.

Produced for compact Disc by Bob Irwin

Mixed and mastered by Vic Anesini, Sony Music Studios, New York, NY
Project Director: Adam Block
All tracks originally produced by Gary Usher
Design: Watts Design?
Packaging Manager: Hope Chasin
Liner notes by David Fricke
Song notes by Johnny Rogan
Photos and memorabilia: Bob Irwin and Sony Music Photo Library
Original cover photo: Frank Bez

Special thanks to: Roger McGuinn, Don DeVito, Steve Berkowitz, Mitchell Cohen, Roy Collins, Saul Davis, Tom Donnarumma, Nina Hernandez, Jeff Hurwitt, John Ingrassia, Jeff Jones, and Jeff Smith.

Other 20-bit mastered Byrds releases:
Mr. Tambourine Man CK 64845
Turn! Turn! Turn! CK 64846
Fifth Dimension CK 64847

What are you going to listen to next?

For a catalog of all Legacy releases, please send a postcard to:
Legacy Recordings
Radio City Station
P.O. Box 1526
New York, NY 10101-1526


© 1996 Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. / (P) 1996 Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. / Manufactured by Columbia Records / 550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022-3211 / “Columbia”, “Legacy” and L Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off. Marca Registrada / Warning: All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws.
Website Builder