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Why'd the Byrds cover Dylan songs so much? *

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by spice9, Jul 9, 2006.

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  1. spice9

    spice9 Senior Member Thread Starter

    New York, NY
    I was listening to Dylan's "Another Side of..." and, as I always do when I play his early stuff, I wondered again about the Byrds covering his songs. Dylan's originals were so amazing in their power and content. Of course the Byrds versions, of which there were so many, were "prettier", but gosh, what a totally lame way to make money. And it wasn't like the Byrds lacked for songwriters. I mean, what did they do... wait for each Dylan album to come out, then listen to it and decide which songs they could hurry up and record? And why? It's not like they were covering standards like Rod Stewart does these days. They were newish tunes, created and sung by one of America's greatest songwriters. Dylan's words were the poetry of the times. Didn't the Byrds feel foolish singing such personal lyrics? Maybe in the 60s it wasn't as big a deal to record other artists' songs when they were still so current. And it's one thing to cover a song here and there, but the way the Byrds just ravaged Dylan's catalog is weird. I've heard that Dylan didn't mind at the time. But he can't be crazy about his versions taking a back seat to the jangle-guitars and harmonies of others. Funny thing is I love the Byrds. I've heard their versions of Dylan's songs way more than Dylan's originals. But whenever I do listen to the originals I think the same thing--shame on those guys.
  2. Joe Koz

    Joe Koz Prodigal Bone Brotherâ„¢ In Memoriam

    I wouldn't call it a rip-off. On the contrary, Dylan was a big influence on the Byrds and they were friends. They also shared the same label, which might have had them (Byrds) hear songs before other acts did.

    Besides, I'm sure Dylan received his share of royalties for all the album tracks and singles that the Byrds put out.

    Again, hardly a rip-off, IMO!
  3. street legal

    street legal Forum Resident

    west milford, nj
    Umm .... Dylan absolutely loved The Byrds. And their interpretations of his songs.
    I guess it only really bothers you (just kidding). In a sense I do agree with you though, in that I prefer to listen to the Byrds' original songs to their Dylan covers, but that is only because they are, like you said, such fine songwriters themselves. I do think there are a bit too many Dylan covers on their first few albums, but it really doesn't bother me THAT much.
  4. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    ...same can be said for Tom Petty ripping off the Byrds.

    In the case with the Byrds, they covered Dylan's songs better than he originally did them some may say...the music goes round and round...
  5. Dave D

    Dave D Done!

    Milton, Canada
    Some of the greatest songs of all time were written by one person and sung by another. I don't see the big deal.
  6. ManFromCouv

    ManFromCouv Employee #3541

    There was money to be made from doing it. ;)
    It seems The Byrds are a band that people really revere, or are quick to trash, depending on how you view the ability/need to adapt someone else's material.
  7. sherrill50

    sherrill50 Well-adapted Melomaniac

    Mukilteo, WA
    A rip-off? I don't think so! I can't think of a more positively symbiotic relationship in the popular music world. Dylan went away happy, The Byrds went away happy, the label (Columbia) went away happy, and the listeners (buyers) ate it up - by the millions.

    What rip-off?
  8. Chief

    Chief Over 10,000 Served

    Man, the thread title is like pointing a loaded gun at the forum.

    The Byrds liked Dylan. A lot of people did. They took Dylan's songs and made them more commercial. But its not like the Byrds begin and end with Dylan. There IS the small matter of "Eight Miles High", for instance.
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Can a Gort fix this thread title? It bugs the hell out of me. Thanks.
  10. Joe Koz

    Joe Koz Prodigal Bone Brotherâ„¢ In Memoriam

    Hope this is better... ;)
  11. 120dB

    120dB Forum Resident

    Baltimore, MD

    Bobby Z. cried all the way to the bank. What a "ripoff"...
  12. Casino

    Casino Senior Member

    If some talented groups or individuals wanted to record some songs I had sung/written, I'd feel complimented, not "ripped off." And BTW, keep them royalty checks comin'...
  13. QuestionMark?

    QuestionMark? 4TH N' GOAL

    The End Zone
    I always thought they did too many Dylan covers also, even though I like every one. The picture on the back of the Byrds first album has Dylan singing with or introducing the band so it seems like Dylan must have approved of them.
  14. Joe Koz

    Joe Koz Prodigal Bone Brotherâ„¢ In Memoriam

    If you think the Byrds covered a lot of Dylan tunes. Check out the Hollies! They did more than their share of Dylan covers.
  15. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    After all, it's all about the cash in business, all about the music for the listeners.
  16. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al Senior Member

    Long Island, NY
    The Byrds took Dylan to the "mainstream". Their isn't anything on "Another Side..." that was top 40 material, until the Byrds put it there.

    I think it was a relationship of mutual benefits.
  17. dgsinner

    dgsinner New Member

    Far East
    I think of The Byrds as translators. Folk music fans were 'true believers' in that early era, and rock and folk had something of a wall between them. What The Byrds did with Dylan was entirely natural for guys who loved both Dylan, who belonged to the serious, earnest folkies, and The Beatles, who belonged to the teen-set. I love having Dylan songs set to the Byrds sound, even if their renditions lack some of the passion of Dylan's originals. I still get chills when I hear the intro to The Byrds take on Mr Tambourine Man...

  18. SteveSDCA

    SteveSDCA Senior Member

    San Diego
    ...because they couldn't write as good as Buffalo Springfield could :angel:
  19. Richard Feirstein

    Richard Feirstein New Member

    Albany, NY
    Think Albert Grossman. As the manager of many artists at the time, including Bob, he was able to get unreleased Bob songs out to Gordon Lightfoot, PP&M, Ian & Sylvia and the Birds who benefited greatly from this mutual relationship. Others, like Arlo, Joan and Judy had to learn the songs directly from Bob, on the road, so to speak.

    A great film of Albert Grossman is long overdue.

  20. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    Why single out the Byrds? Peter, Paul & Mary covered Dylan; so did Joan Baez(for a lot longer than either!); so did Judy Collins. There's a huge laundry list of artists who covered Dylan, from the great to the very modest. Why? Because, along with Lennon & McCartney, he was the primo pop songwriter of his time.

    Or, as my wife points out, because they felt like it? :D Sounds good to me, even if Dylan and McGuinn knew each other before the Byrds came to be.

  21. dgsinner

    dgsinner New Member

    Far East
    Wasn't one of Sonny and Cher's first big hits a cover of All I Really Want To Do?

  22. Squealy

    Squealy Forum Hall Of Fame

    You have to consider that in the mid-60s, the idea that rock artists would write all their own material was still a new one.
  23. Robin L

    Robin L Musical Omnivore

    Fresno, California
    Ever since first reading "The Crying of Lot 49" in 1979, I've always assumed that the "Paranoids" were Pynchon's warped parody of the Byrds. In 1965, the Byrds were my favorite band, and there was a lot of Dylan on the radio. As I recall, "Like a Rolling Stone" was in heavy rotation on KJH and KRLA during the Watts Riots of 1965. Byrds and Turtles and Sonny and Cher and a host of other artistes were cashing in on what appeared to be some weird teen craze, like hula hoops or something.
  24. Rockerbox

    Rockerbox Forum Resident

    London, Kentucky
    It always appeared to me that back in the sixties it made the singer/band seem more 'hip' to cover Dylan...The musical version of being seen in all the right, trendy places.
  25. Robin L

    Robin L Musical Omnivore

    Fresno, California
    And REM ripping off Tom Petty . . .
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