I know some of you are touched by the simple, open-wound charms of The Beach Boys’ Love You album. Isn’t part of that album’s appeal the sympathetic vibe you get from a band hanging onto its gifts by a thread?
That’s at the root of my soft spot for The Byrds‘ “Chestnut Mare.” I’m a hard ass about The Byrds’ prime-era work, as some of you know, but I find “Chestnut Mare” most sympathetic. You can tell Roger McGuinn is still trying to catch that elusive sound he’d been chasing during the ups and downs of The Byrds. He’s the last of the original Byrds standing, but he’s not ready to think outside the band structure. Roger’s got a business suit on – just in case – and it’s not clear that everyone in this version of The Byrds makes sense (conga player???), but it’s not quite the season for the band to die.
Musically, I think there’s something to be said for the lack of cohesion and confidence in this performance. I wish the early Byrds could have shown more rough edges and vulnerability. I wish The Byrds had trafficked in more Loser Rock. OK, maybe not, but at least this weird, waning performance allows me to feel something wistful.
What’s your most sympathetic last-ditch effort by a band that’s clearly past its prime?