Tuesday, November 17, 2009

He made us feel a whole lot better

I don't know Allison Anders, and never will. But she wrote something about Gene Clark that I wanted to share today.

Clark was a founding member of the Byrds, by anyone's estimation a fabulous blend of artists from the get-go: Clark, Chris Hillman, Roger (Jim) McGuinn and David Crosby. You could stack them up against just about anything that came down the pike during Clark's tenure in 1964-66.

Clark was tragically overlooked, in part because of his brief stay and the deep talent within the group, notably McGuinn and the jangly 12-string Rickenbacker that made them famous; but also because the band's biggest hit during that period was not a Clark-penned song, but a Dylan cover ("Mr. Tambourine Man.)"

But it's never too late to give a man his due. And I doubt it could be said any better than the words Allison wrote for a MySpace page:

I know most people coming to this page are already well versed in who Gene Clark was, what he did, and the brave, delicate, rich talent he was. Instead of writing a biography of Gene, I thought I'd let people who knew him and those influenced by him speak here.

I came to Gene both early and late. I was a fan of The Byrds from the beginning, even tho I was just a little girl of 10 when I heard my first Byrds record. I was madly in love, like most of us, with "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better". My mom was a working divorcee and would leave money for my sister and I to go to the local burger joint for dinner, as well as some quarters for the jukebox. I played that song to death! I remained a fierce Byrds fan but wasn't really much aware of Gene's solo work.

It was a decade ago when a man I was dating turned me onto Gene's work. I fell completely in love with these beautiful songs, and their lonely and longing quality which were so deeply set in an American landscape. Gene Clark's songs are the ultimate American road movie.

Clark had some issues. I don't know if that made him a great songwriter, or if he rose above his problems long enough to write terrific songs, like "Eight Miles High" and "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" and "She Don't Care About Time.''

You may never have heard "In a Misty Morning," which includes this passage:

The fog rolled in and the lights grew dimmer
And the sound of the city streets seemed amplified
In the misty morning when it had just been pouring
Like the clouds above the storm just had to cry
Like the clouds above the storm just had to cry

Gene Clark. Gone since 1991. He would have been 68 today.


  1. Actually, I'm pretty sure he would have been 65 today (born 1944). Anyway, nice tribute! He's my favourite singer-songwriter and I agree "In A Misty Morning" is magnificent.

  2. Yeah he was awesome - the soul of the original lineup. I'm sure the overrated McGuinn was glad to get him out of the band, and also made sure Gram Parsons didn't stick around. When Chris Hillman bailed out to join the Burrito Bros with Gram, that was it for the Byrds.

  3. the genius of gene overshadowed the beauty of his voice, some of us have great guitar skillls but not such a good voice, ironicallly gene had it all, and more which is rare in any performer,@roadmaster' still a landmark album!