Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is Gene Clark:
Gene is the fellow on the left, doing lead singer on “Backstage Pass”. Roger McGuinn is in the center and Chris Hillman on the right.
Rock music has seen quite a few artists who have been recognized by a large public. But there are those who have sunk into the sunset and few know their name. Gene Clark was in the first rank of those artists.
Gene Clark is no longer with us and I miss him a lot. I can’t think of another musician who moves me like Gene does. I first got hooked on his music back in the day when he released his fourth solo album, No Other. There wasn’t a bad song on that masterpiece.
Gene Clark was a songwriter, musician and performer. The guy sure could write songs and he was one of the best lyricist to come down the pike. A songwriter learning their craft could do no better than to study Gene’s work. The songs I have featured here all have a wallop that leaves me moved. Only “Changes” was not his. (I include it here to give some idea what he could do with another fellow’s song.)
In case, you are unfamiliar with who Gene Clark was, he was a founding member of the American folk-rock band, The Byrds. It was Gene Clark who wrote or co-wrote many of their songs: “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”, and “She Don’t Care About Time” and “I’ll Feel a Whole Better”. Gene not only was the songwriter on that one but also the lead singer.
His influence was writ large on a number of musical genres: folk rock, country rock, alt.country, and psychedilic acid rock. He was there at the beginning, writing the songs and performing them. One of the first psychedelic songs, the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High”, came from him.
He went solo in 1966 for a number of reasons, including internal squabbles with others in the band and a deathly fear of flying.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 as a member of the Byrds. But he is still mostly unrecognized for being one of the best songwriters of his time and as a solo artist by much of the public and by the Hall of Fame.
So give a listen and maybe you’ll be saying with me, “We sure miss you, Gene.”
Finally, here’s one he recorded with Carla Olson in the final years of his career, Phil Ochs’ “Changes“: