The Byrds were known for their beautiful harmonies, brilliant musicianship and mixtures of original songs and classic cover versions of rock songs including many Bob Dylan songs. Their first album was released in 1956 entitled “Mr. Tambourine Man,” after the classic Bob Dylan song. That same year in 1965 the Byrds released their classic album Turn Turn Turn. In 1966, the Byrds released the album Fifth Dimension. The band would also have to weather the loss of their chief songwriter Gene Clark.
In 1967, The Byrds released the album Younger Than Yesterday. The album would feature Jim McGuinn and Chris Hillman’s fabulous hit “So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star.” The Byrds released what many believe to be their best album in 1968 entitled The Notorious Byrd Brothers. It’s a sentiment also shared here at ClassicRockHistory. David Crosby was fired during the recording of the The Notorious Byrd Brothers. At the time David Crosby had joined the band Buffalo Springfield and then would go on to form Crosby Stills and Nash with his Buffalo Springfield bandmate Stephen Stills.
Gram Parsons joined the band in 1969 for the release of their album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. In 1969 The Byrds released the album Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde. At the time in 1969 the band consisted of Roger McGuinn, Clarence White, John York and Gene Parsons. The same lineup would release the album Ballad of Easy Rider also in 1969. A two record set was released in 1970 that was actually titled (Untitled)
The Byrds celebrated their tenth album release with the Byrdmaniax album in 1971. Later on that year in 1971 the Byrds released their eleventh album entitled Farther Along. The Byrds final album entitled Byrds was released in 1973. The album featured a reunion of the original lineup of the band from 1966.
It was tough to pick only 10 Byrds songs for this list because the band released twelve albums of great material However, we hope you will enjoy the ones we pick as you might be surprised by some of our choices.
# 10 – Oil In My Lamp
We open up our Top 10 Byrds Songs list with this very cool track from the Easy Rider album. Although the album shared the name as the classic film that was just released at the same time, it had nothing at all to do with the film except for the title song.
# 9 – Long Live The King
The great Byrds song “Long Live The King,”was released on the band’s final album entitled Byrds in 1973.The song was written by David Crosby. The songs was released as the b side to the singles “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and Full Circle.
# 8 – Glory Glory
The Byrds song “Glory, Glory,” was released on the bands 1971 album Byrdmaniax. The song “Glory, Glory,” was the album’s opening track. The song was also released as a single. It was unable to break the Billboard Hot 100 as the song peaked at number 110.
# 7 – Wasn’t Born To Follow
Our favorite Byrds album featured the wonderful track “Wasn’t Born To Follow.” The song was one of two songs on the album written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The songs was featured in the film Easy Rider that starred Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. The song was also covered by Carole King’s original band The City. Dusty Springfield also did a fab version of the tune.
# 6 – It’s No Use
On an album that feature many blockbuster hits, one of our favorite songs was one of the most ignored. The great track “It’s No Use,” sneaks in here at the number 6 spot on our top 10 Byrds songs list.
# 5 – Lady Friend
The song “Lady Friend,” was originally released by the Byrds as a single in between records. The beautiful songs was written by David Crosby. The songs was intended to be issued on The Notorious Byrd Brothers album but was left off due to the issues David Crosby was having with the band before getting fired.
# 4 – Turn! Turn! Turn!
This is possibly the most popular song The Byrds ever released. When most fans are asked to name a Byrds songs “Turn! Turn! Turn!” is the one they will mention. The song was released on the album of the same name in 1965. The song was written by Pete Seeger who borrowed lyrics from the Book of Ecclesiastes. As popular as the song was, it never broke the Billboard Top 10 as it peaked at number 11.
# 3 – Have You Seen Her Face
As we close in on the number on spot on our top 10 Byrds songs list we turn o a great song written by Chris Hillman. The great track “Have You Seen Her Face,” was released on the album Younger Than Yesterday in 1968.
# 2 – Eight Miles High
These next two spots are interchangeable in our opinion. The great Byrds classic song “Eight Miles High,” was released on the album Fifth Dimension in 1966. The song was written by Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn and David Crosby. The song opened up side two of the record. It has become one of the most important songs of the 1960’s and remains a symbol of the counterculture of the 60s generation.
# 1 – Goin’ Back / Mr. Tambourine Man
While “Mr. Tambourine Man,” is not much of a surprise in the number one spot on our top 10 Byrds songs list, the inclusion of “Going Back,” in the tie probably is. Nonetheless, “Going Back,” is probably the most underrated song the band ever released. Its soaring melody and brilliant compositions deserves to be rated this high in our humble opinion.