10 Best Byrds Songs Including Readers Picks

Byrds Songs

Photo: Joost Evers / Anefo [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Our Top Byrds Songs article looks back at what we believe to be the Best Byrds Songs released during their close to ten-year run from 1965 to 1973. The Byrds went through many lineup changes. The band gave birth to a fantastic discography of released albums and served as a launching ground for some of classic rock’s most famous artists. The original lineup included Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Michael Clarke, and Chris Hillman. Over time, some members would come and go. Subsequent band members include Kevin Kelley, Gram Parsons, Clarence White, Gene Parsons, John York, and Skip Battin.

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 and was 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 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. 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 in 1969. A two-record set was released in 1970 that was titled (Untitled) 

The Byrds celebrated their tenth album release with the Byrdmaniax album in 1971. Later that year, in 1971, the Byrds released their eleventh album, Farther Along. The Byrd’s final album, entitled Byrds, was released in 1973. The album featured a reunion of the band’s original lineup 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 picked as you might be surprised by some of our choices.

# 10 – Oil In My Lamp

We open our Top 10 Byrds Songs list with this cool track from the Easy Rider album. Although the album shared the name as the classic film that was just released simultaneously, it had nothing to do with the movie except for the title song. The song is a cover of a traditional Christian hymn. The Byrds’ vocal performance on the song against a very sparse musical arrangement is why we thought this as one very special song we wanted to present on this list.

# 9 – Long Live The King

The great Byrds song “Long Live The King” was released on the band’s final album, Byrds, in 1973. David Crosby wrote the song. The song was released as the b-side to the singles “Cowgirl in the Sand” and Full Circle. The song opens immediately with that very familiar David Crosby vocal sound. This one is dark, gritty, and very much underrated. Echoes of the style of music David Crosby would generate with Crosby Stills, Nash, and Young can be heard here.

# 8 – Glory Glory

The Byrds song “Glory, Glory” was released on the band’s 1971 album Byrdmaniax. The song “Glory, Glory” was the album’s opening track. The song was also released as a single. The song was unable to break into 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 were featured in the film Easy Rider, which starred Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. Carole King’s original band, The City, also covered the song. Dusty Springfield also did a fab version of the tune.

# 6 – It’s No Use

On an album that features many blockbuster hits, one of our favorite songs was one of the most ignored. The outstanding track “It’s No Use” sneaks in at six on our top 10 Byrds songs list. The song was released on the band’s third album entitled Mr. Tambourine Man. “It’s No Use” was written by Gene Clark and Jim McGuinn.

# 5 – Lady Friend

The song “Lady Friend” was initially released by the Byrds as a single between records. David Crosby wrote the beautiful song. The song was intended to be issued on The Notorious Byrd Brothers album but was left off due to David Crosby’s issues 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 song, “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 famous 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 one spot on our top 10 Byrds songs list, we turn to a great song written by Chris Hillman. The excellent track “Have You Seen Her Face” was released on the album Younger Than Yesterday in 1968. The song was released as the third single from the album Younger Than Yesterday. As a single, “Have You Seen Her Face” broke into the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number seventy-four.

# 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 essential songs of the 1960s 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, including “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 deserve to be rated this high, in our humble opinion.

The ten Best Byrds songs, according to readers, compiled by comments and emails.

# 10 – You Ain’t Going Nowhere

# 9 – My Back Pages

# 8 – Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man

# 7 – All I Really Want To Do

# 6 – Have You Seen Her Face

# 5 – Mr. Spaceman

# 4 – So You Want to Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star

# 3 – Chimes Of Freedom

# 2 – Turn! Turn! Turn!

# 1 – Eight Miles High

10 Best Byrds Songs Including Readers Picks article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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