Howdy and Roger McGuinn–The Migrant Byrd

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HOWDY!

This site is premiering in celebration of the Byrd’s album Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968), which was partially recorded here in my hometown of Nashville, TN. It was released 46 YEARS AGO on this date and has been rockin’ turntables ever since.

I couldn’t think of a more cosmic appropriate time–if it weren’t for Gram Parsons this adventure would have never started for me.

May this album continue to inspire musicians and fans one hundred years from now.

 

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Greetings Friends—

Many of you might be visiting my page for the first time and it HAS been a while since my last entry—so I thought I would give a proper hello/introduction before the piece:

Heyyy y’all! Grab a seat on this virtual couch and relax or spin along with some vinyl and pour yourself a nice drink. All are welcome here.

I’m a twenty-something professional classical musician/teacher who writes while seriously pursuing commercial/classic country/60s folk-rock guitar. I straddle the saddle upon two parallel universes, because I want listeners to hear me when I have something to share….it doesn’t make as much sense if I’m singing/playing into the mic while its pointing the opposite direction now does it?! If it’s country-rock I am speaking about, it will be country-rock I will be living.

This life suits me anyhow. I’m already an outlaw in my own genre. I’ve been kicked out of establishments and had arrows shot at me from members of my own tribe. I’ve been labeled “unconventional”, “dangerous”, and “too curious”. My trusty guitar, Ginger whom I’ll formally introduce you to at some point–is my noble steed. She’s a depression-era Gibson who helps me to climb the ages of rock while anchoring my roots in American music. She tries to keep me from falling off her back while learnin’ to yodel…I feel sorry for her sometimes. I hope one day I’ll free her doubtful mind.

Because I’m a native of Nashville, I chose the pen name “ENdie Chick”=E.ast N.ashville and I’m as Independent as the U.S. of Cosmic A. East Nashville has been my home for a long time….I was among the original ‘Eastside pioneers’. A running joke for our hood is, “37206: Firework or gun shot?”  In fact, both have been shot at the Victorian-era house from where I write.

My neighborhood is a colorful quilt..all squares with different designs….Victorian house–Tomato Art–shack–brick ranch home–Edwardian mansion–New Absurd-looking Modern Building–art garage-what the hell is an Infill?!-coffeehouse–Lovely bungalow–crappy dollar store–etc. woven together with artsy looking, friendly thread. With all the growth happening here lately, I just hope our community doesn’t get too big for its britches.

Right now, it’s high-cut and snug in Nashville….the way a good pair of jeans should feel stretched around the curves.

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If you must know my real name, you’ll have to come and sit next to me at a concert (or see me play one). Afterall, ‘Tis the proper way in Music City to meet people…one has to provide a handshake to get a name—a.k.a. the Nashville Business Card.  In fact, we have a rootin’ tootin’ boot scootin’ dance named after this custom. It’s called the “Music City Name Drop”.  Learn it, because if you don’t…expect to get “booted out” of the line—you’ll fall on your face with your hat landing on your ass and the spurs on your shoes will end up functioning more like weathervanes than rodeo decorations.

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Buh dum chick. I’ve written a Hank-Williams-esque song about this and also workin on a sequel to “Kawliga”….so it’s gonna be (c)opyrighted. True story.

Yee hahhhhhhh. Jambalayahhhhh crawfish piiiiie, me oh my ohhhhhhhhhhhh. Lawd. I luhhhh me some Hank. I HAVE SUPER retrocrush on him. I’m working on a special project for him too…..

This site is a music-educationally focused environment of which not one cent other than my own has ever funded. No one dictates how I write, pays me the dollars, politically sways, or is holding me back from telling truths.  I’m doing this because I believe that there are hungry souls out there who (while appreciate the news and information) need more than just another music article+advertisement. Read this site more like a journal…Music is an experience, not a product. It is an art and should be respected and written about as such.

Guess you could say I’m a neo-hippie cowgirl…a loyal friend musicians can trust–their secrets will always remain inside the tonic of my soul. I have a reputation for protecting the individual rights of musicians and I vow to keep it that way.

My desk is a music stand; and wherever it happens to sit—the sounds and words unfold towards the cosmos.  Although I have learned much, I am not an expert and do not seek to flaunt intelligence. I desire to share from a musician’s position everything I have seen and experienced during my travels on the oooooooopen-road under Godddddddd’s blue skyyyyy, in hope that you’ll find answers, perspective, motivation, and inspiration.

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<<THIS ONE’S FOR THE BYRDS>>

For today, I’ve decided to take a short break from a biography I’m working on about the Cosmic American musician Gram Parsons to write a special piece about an equally influential artist: Roger McGuinn.  They are both my muses in different aspects…

What does this temporary tangent have to do with Roger McGuinn? A big part of the GP study has included research about his time with the Byrds in Nashville during 1968—when Sweetheart of the Rodeo was recorded. I plan on releasing some familar and a few never seen photos along with personal interviews, new information, etc. I can’t wait to share this with y’all.

Through a series of interesting events and connections during my journey, I was eventually granted the rare privilege of talking to THE Roger McGuinn! He’s an established musician who has so much more road left to travel. Even though I’ve not talked with him many times, I consider him a friend. He’s a nice and generous gentleman.

I’ve also become friends with his two equally brilliant and cordial sons, Patrick and Henry.

Because Roger has been spinning on my turntable, in old pictures sitting upon my library desk, and circulating through my mind so much over the last few months—AND all this compounded by the fact that he’s been floating around the tonal universe a lot recently–I felt I should respond to recent news about him/The Byrds that has sparked some negative response/confusion. I found this whole situation a good opportunity to dig into other areas.

Heyyy! He also celebrated his 72nd Birthday this summer! How cool is that? (Sings):

He was so much older then, but younger than that now.

<<MUSIC’S GONNA BE COMIN’ OUT THE OISEUAX>>

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Booda-lee Booda-lee Booda-lee BOOH.

The following piece will begin a series a little different than what you will see with the Gram project. A “harmonic ornithology” is what I be cookin’ up.

Meaning: I plan on making it my “Byrd” journal. A field guide to my thoughts on all things Byrds. It’s more nerdy/opinion/thoughts in fashion, the Gram stuff will be alot more researchy, academic, introspective, Tennessean, cawntryfried, wonderful, and cosmic. There are alot of composers, musicians, and influences in my heart–Gram Parsons is in the center. His family, fans, and friends are there too. The Byrds are a fat tooled-leather belt strapped around all that.

Get ready for things to get crazy! The ENdie Chick site is unfiltered and gritty—just as the music world is. I do not report my findings in traditional literary style, I like to wind them into an artistic performance. I was trained to play not to write! My words should have sound! So I shall play for you. If you see anything ITALICIZED that’s me singing. Got it? GOOD.

Excerpts are gonna be comin’ out the oiseaux for the next several weeks. So stand here and watch your head, ‘cuz you’ll never know when they’ll be dropping.

Please know that I love and appreciate each one of you when it counts, but allayall grammar police, anxious red ink pens, language martyrs, and writing-purists have no jurisdiction here—this hippie-outlaw must have her freedom (and you like FREE too, how else did you get here?), so as a compromise, you gotta deal with the kinks or roll on, respectively. See what I did there? You hate when I talk in first person? And. But. Fragments are? What. D’oh!

Thank you in advance for reading. Enjoy.

Cosmically Yours,

The ENdie Chick

 The Harmonic Ornithology

CHAPTER ONE

 

Turn+Turn+Turn

A Ramblin’ Gal’s thoughts on:

Roger McGuinn–The Migrant Byrd

To everything there is a season.

Recently, there have been reports flying around that Roger McGuinn has no interest in joining up with David Crosby and Chris Hillman for a Byrds reunion in honor of their anniversary—their 5 D in the world of music.

Fittie years of rock and roll. Five decades and still shaking their tailfeathers! Congrats to ‘em.

Sidenote: I feel a little guilty because I’m gonna be preening Roger so much, but don’t worry Chris and David–please know I am not overlooking your important contributions at all, I will come around to you eventually.

We are so fortunate that the three remaining Byrds are doing well these days, still jamming. Guess that’s why everyone wants to see what they would do if together again……

Eager fans are broadcasting waves of interest in attending a reunion, yet Roger does not want to ‘copy that’ moment in the 60s. He’s said so in articles and also on Facebook.

Instead (singing with head down):

He’s striking another match….starting anew…

It’s all over now, baby blue.

The Rolling Stone tells Byrds fans that they shouldn’t ‘hold their breath waiting for a Byrds reunion’. Click here to read the article, then continue or you won’t have any idea what I am talking about..

The article is mostly neutral. McGuinn speaks highly of Crosby and Hillman while respectfully declining the invitations and thoughtfully explaining the reasons behind his choice. Crosby understands his stance, wishes he would reconsider, leaving the door open. There wasn’t any comment in there from Hillman, but it’s understood he has interest…(Heeeey Chris!  Call me!*wink* I got some questions for ya.)

Enthusiasts want so much to see it happen, they are willing to toss out many bags worth of seed…but..Roger McGuinn doesn’t want to stick his beak in people’s hands. He believes:

The wealthiest person is a pauper at times
Compared to the man with a satisfied mind.

Sounds like the richest way to make an exit if you ask me.

Yet many fans are disappointed or confused about his decision. Some were saddened but understood his stance, while others…Well, I don’t really want to repeat some of the things I read on social media and beyond…but let’s put it this way…what the comments read was worse than anything muttered here back in ’68 at the Opry.

MI0002749471I know there are others of you out there who are quietly frustrated.

I believe that part of the reason for this strong reaction, is because of all the reunions happening these days and/or former popular artists who are still going strong with tours…..and fans…well, they have certain expectations. They want their turn, turn, turn.

For example: Bob Dylan and our friends the Rolling Stones are still rockin’ (Haaaay KEEF!). As far as the reunions go, The Beach Boys did a 50th anniversary tour in 2012. The Monkees did a 45th anniversary tour in 2011. Last Spring, I was shocked to open the Nashville Scene and read that The Zombies had performed a concert. Tell everyone YES.

Back in December, Eric Burdon was supposed to perform a show at the Ryman, but he had to cancel/reschedule for health reasons–he’ll come back around I hope….and Paul McCartney was supposed be here, but he had to reschedule for sometime in October.

This summer, Elton John crocodile-rocked at Bonnaroo….tick tock tick tock….he set the hook on everyone in the best way. Dee dah dum bump BUMP. Dee dah dum bump. BUMP!

There are many more in addition to these folks I mentioned. It’s amazing they still have the stamina!

I’d imagine after many years, that there are musicians who experience a considerable amount of pressure to keep the career going. More so if they were wildly popular and influencial. I bet that in the golden years of a music career–the decision to either move forward, backward, or retire is a very difficult one to make.

I wonder..do they think:

Will my fans still care about me?

What if I can’t meet their expectations?

If I cease to create, will I cease to exist?

Has my thread run out or is there more left in me to unwind?

How long should I suspend until I can officially resolve on a good note?

Hmmm.

With this resurgence of 1960s-70s groups and individuals, rock and roll fans have been watching…waiting…hoping….that someday very soon, The Byrds will assume their position among the pecking order.

But……

Roger keep sayin’ no to us,

not ev-en may-be.

WHY?

WHY?

Considering the years of loyalty–buying all the albums, attending concerts, wearing the merchandise, reading books, defending them from naysayers, even sticking with the various changes in hair and personnel..and all that genre bending–doesn’t Roger McGuinn owe it to his fans?

Why can’t he just go back to doing what the audience wants? Without them there would be no him, right?

SING THAT SONG! BEAT THOSE WINGS!

However……

Some say there is a limit

He can’t go past that.

He don’t believe us

He don’t think that’s where its at.

WHY?

WHY?

For HALF A CENTURY the Byrds vinyls have sounded out futuristic ideas from the turn-turn-turntables, yet it’s obvious that not everyone is “Rogering” that message. It’s as if the unhappy fans are blasting words from their ONE way radios:

“Roger, Ready to Copy? Wilco?”

 ……..

 “Negative?!

 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! MAYDAY!!!!”

C’mon y’all…Don’t flip the byrd. They were never the sort of group to fly in circles. Especially McGuinn. He isn’t doing it to ruffle your feathers. He’s staying true to himself. And in return, true to the music for you…the fans whom he appreciates.

aintgoinnowherebyrdsInstead of being pissed off or confused he isn’t going to do a reunion, we should consider why his answer is surprising at all.

When have Byrds ever had the habit of flying backwards?

The negative perceptions of McGuinn’s decision is mind-boggling considering that everyone is aware that he has never had any other behavior than soaring above and beyond the call of genre—finding the sounds and connections beyond The Byrds nest rested eight-miles high atop the mountain of American Rock and Roll.

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Asking him to suck it up and do it anyway would be selfish. It’s like asking him to revert from who he has evolved to be—forcing him to go back to long hair, wearing rectangular granny glasses, and changing his name back to James Joseph McGuinn III. This WAS his identity when he started. Byrds who live in Indonesia stay in Indonesia, whatever! Clip his wings why don’t we?

For those of you who were lucky to have been at a Byrds concert in the 60s: Would you want to put that mini-skirt back on now? How about those groovy boots…if you wear ‘em while stepping on the accelerator in your Cadillac, would fast it a go go?

Yeah, much has changed…

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown

Roger So Far?

Dear friends, I’m sayin’ this…We can’t have it both ways. We can’t let go and allow a byrd to spread his wings and take off—then, expect and demand him to fly right back…damning him to eternal air space if he doesn’t.  An artist should be free to catch the draft that moves him or her. We’re just lucky when one swoops down, snatches us up by our shoulders, and pitches us around…like the eagles at Kentucky Lake tossing fish to each other in the sky. Embrace it:

Just be quiet and feel it around you.

Besides, isn’t it the experience you are looking for? The best performances are never the result of a demanding audience. No one produces well when being forced. The only pushing anyone should be doing is upon the play button. Allow the player to direct. Navigating the patterns, curls, currents, and temperatures of the air bring out the best creations. This is how artists gain altitude.

We have to keep swimming or we’ll sink like a stone.

For the times, they are a changing.

Progression is how music form survives too. When did you ever hear a song start off and then in the middle start playing the same notes in reverse? Symmetry in pattern…recapitulations in song occurs, refrains, verses yes, but mirroring and folding in on itself, not a good thing.

Haven’t you heard some of those ol’ people who sit in the front church pews whisperin’ stuff about how ‘playing a rock and roll song backwards reveals an evil message from the devil?’

BWAH HA HA HAAAH. Stairway to Heaven or Hell? What SHALL IT BEEEE…Satan is real….don’t wear his jeweled crown.

And what happens to the needle the more it skates along the grooves of the record as it turn, turn, turns?

It eventually loses its point.

My fav Beatle, George Harrison once said to Jon Gilliland in an interview for Pop Chronicles:

“You go from one field of happiness to a greater field happiness and one thing gets boring..and it’s the same thing with music. It progresses…gets better, sometimes it gets worse…but generally it gets better. You’ve gotta go from one thing to another otherwise everyone would be bored stiff..it’s just a natural progression.”

5D ByrdsWhile historically important, Music is a forward moving art. Our roots can be firmly planted into one genre or another, but our arms need to always be extending, intertwining with other artists, soaking in the sound rays, and reaching into the heights—providing ample protection, nutrients, and shade for which future seeds can germinate and sprout.

A time to plant, A time to reap.

The dirt beneath these roots is ancient, but when one turn, turn, turns it—it retains some old sediment, yet it falls into new places.

This is the reason I highly respect Roger McGuinn. He understands this process, contributes to the music world in this fashion, and spiritually lives this philosophy.

And what about you people saying: Pleeeease. Just a reunion for the sake of reliving the glory days of yore? We can’t lose that!

Nowhere is there warmth to be found
Among those afraid of losing their ground

The Byrds didn’t write those lyrics describing their experiences in drug tripping, they wrote what they were feeling about flying overseas for the first time. About stretching beyond the familiar…not leaving it entirely behind.

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I understand the “love of the past”. Okay, Okay. I admit, I DO try to live in it alot. If you’ve seen me around town, you’d know I Live TRUE at vintage clothing stores (I love ya Tammy Pope!), wear a 60s Byrdish bangin hairstyle, blast Hippie Radio 94.5, and sport cat-eye glasses older than the Tambourine Man himself. Check out some of my fav pieces collected from Hip Zipper, Pre to Post Modern, Goodwill, and LIVE TRUE vintage shops. See the looks: “Raga Child” “Trippy Sweater” and “Countrybyrd”.

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As a young musician looking for inspiration, I’d be so super psyched at a chance to see the Byrds..but wouldn’t it be better to observe them in their natural habitat, not in a cage built by circumstances from their past?

Roger’s flown through the skies for 50+ years y’all. He is seventy-two years old!

Oh how is it that he could come out to here and be still floating?

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He floats because he constantly creates. That’s where his heart is.

Henry McGuinn and I talked about a Byrd reunion among many things. He agrees with his father’s choice. He’s very happy that Roger finds peace in being a troubadour these days. Ha. One of very clubs he started playing in was called The Troubadour. How appropriate that after all this time, he is homing back to that–both with this Folk Den Project and many international solo-performances/interviews. I’ll talk about that later…

True. The Byrds have a history of struggle internally and externally, but each has broken from the flock successfully whether you measure that in money or legacy. Sad, a few Byrds have fallen along the way-but their contributions to the art of music will exist forever.

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As for the living Byrds who are really livin’, It’d be a nice idea for them to be together for a special event that raises money or awareness for a good cause…but I think we shouldn’t force The Byrds to ground. Instead, we should be patient and hold out the perch for them, but not feel entitled to a return. Although some Byrds have fallen along the years, Chris, David, and Roger have evolved well…it’d be a damn shame to end that by getting angry and pulling the support from under them.

As Robert Frost would sing if a rockstar:

Let’s give our tambourines a shake. Not to ask if there’s a mistake–The only other sound’s the sweep of easy wind and downy flake–whose magic swirling ships these are….I think I know..they have eight miles to go before they sleep…JAZ-ZY RA-GA ROCK SO-LO,

And for Chris, Roger, and David—-

They will keep falling as long as they live…
All without ending
And they will remember the place that is now
That has ended before the beginning.

 

Not to worry Byrds fans. They might not all fly back, but the music they gave us ain’t goin’ nowhere….

 

 

Roger–Ten Four From the Fifth Dimension,

The ENdie Chick