It’s Thursday again. You know what that means. Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick. Uncle Bardiie gives a double thumbs up to this week’s selection: “Fair and Tender Ladies” by Gene Clark with Carla Olson.
It’s Uncle Bardie’s birthday. That’s right. Uncle Bardie is a bi-cuspiteer, a Virgo leaning toward the Libra side of the lake. And this one is for Uncle Bardie.
For some of you, it’s Prince. For some, it’s David Bowie. For some, it’s Lemmy. For me, it’s Gene Clark I miss the most.
If you’ve never heard of Gene Clark, then you’ve missed one awesome talent. He was the main man in the Byrds, composing a good deal of their early stuff: “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better”, “Set You Free This Time”, “Here Without You”, “You Won’t Have to Cry”, “If You’re Gone”, “The World Turns All Around Her”, “She Don’t Care About Time” and “Eight Miles High”. After three albums, he went solo for a variety of reasons, among them his fear of flying.
Gene was a songwriter who would never lose his ability to put the most beautiful lyrics to music. He collaborated with a number of musicians including the bluegrass band, The Dillards. His album “Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers” had a slew of West Coast talent backing him. In addition to the Gosdins, they were former bandmates Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke. Glen Campbell, Jerry Cole, and Leon Russell, Clarence White and Doug Dillard joined in with their talent. During the eighties, he collaborated with Carla Olson.
With his voice, he brought a vulnerability and sensitivity that is rare. That is obvious on Gene and Carla’s version of this old folk song. I don’t know of another version that comes close to the beauty of this one.
Lately his status as a cult figure has been rising. But for a long time he has been ignored by the rock music press, though not by the musicians. Now he is being discovered by the very press that ignored him so long.
I gotta tell you I heard his “No Other” album when it was released in in 1974 and loved it. The fact that it did not sell well was a great disappointment to me. It was up there with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club” and “Dark Side of the Moon” with its brilliance. It was a perfect album from beginning to end. So perfect I wore it out listening to it. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a replacement. Then in the nineties, I came across the anthology, “American Dreamer”, quite by accident. There were several of the songs from “No Other”, then I finally found a copy of his masterpiece.
Just one last thing to say. Thanks, Gene, for all the music.
Here’s a couple more of my favorite Genes. Man, that man knew how to lay down a lyric: