Album: The Notorious Byrd Brothers.
With its infamous cover photo of a horse standing in for the recently-departed David Crosby, The Notorious Byrd Brothers was the work of a band that was firing on all cylinders while completely falling apart. This was represented in several multi-part songs that never quite ended up where they started. Like every member of the band needed to contribute something completely unique to each song
That it held together at all was due to the fact that no matter where the songs went, The Byrds never abandoned their core strengths – their harmonies and McGuinn’s ever-surprising guitar.
For example, the appropriately-named “Change is Now,” which starts out as a slow, meditative piece with the usual hippie lyrics:
Change is now, change is now
Things that seemed to be solid are not
All is now, all is now
The time that we have to live
Then, with no warning whatsoever, it transitions into a country song – with future Byrd Clarence White (probably) playing pedal steel guitar as they sing the chorus:
Gather all that we can
Keep in harmony with love’s sweet plan
And then, just as abruptly, with session ace Hal Blaine playing the drums instead of Michael Clarke, they transition in to a very long psychedelic guitar solo unlike anything else that McGuinn had done – using sustain to let the notes of the solo blend into each other instead of articulating each one seperately, sounding more like Jeff Beck’s work in the Yardbirds than anything he’d previously done.
And then, back into the verses, as if nothing had happened at all, instead of everything happening at once, and while the long guitar solo section never returns, they do go back into the country chorus once more. Strange, and yet beautifully compelling, and – of course – held together by the McGuinn-Crosby-Hillman harmonies that never once waver during all of the weirdness.
Video for “Change is Now”