Drinks For Everybody In The Place

The Byrds were a folk rock band that formed in the 1964 and they were particularly good at doing covers of Bob Dylan songs. The principal members were Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Michael Clarke and Gram Parsons. McGuinn, Clark, and Crosby founded the Byrds initially as the Jet Set and the Beefeaters.  Crosby was fired in 1967, Parsons left the Byrds in the summer of 1968 and Hillman left shortly after Parsons.  The Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

‘Just A Season’ was recorded on the 1970 Byrds Live Untitled album and it was written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy. A different mix of this track was issued on the 1990 The Byrds four-CD box set.  Jacques Levy was an American songwriter, theater director, and clinical psychologist from New York City.  He collaborated with Bob Dylan writing lyrics for several of his songs, and also with Joe Cocker, Crystal Gayle, Carly Simon and Roger McGuinn among others.  In 1969, Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy teamed up to work on a play that would be based on Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt.  Levy had the idea for this musical and he sent his girlfriend to talk to Roger McGuinn at the Fillmore East.  McGuinn was entranced by her good looks, so he agreed to do the score for this hippie musical.  An anagram of the Norwegian playwright Ibsen’s main character Peer Gynt was created which became Gene Tryp.

The Ibsen storyline would be loosely followed, but set in the American southwest during the mid-19th century instead of Norway.  In the original, Peer Gynt, in a dream, was trying to catch a reindeer, but Levy and McGuinn modified the story and changed the reindeer to a wild horse.  The horse is scared by a snake and both the horse and its new rider plunge over a cliff.  The song, a mixture of narration and fiery chorus called ‘Chestnut Mare’, became a transatlantic hit for the Byrds, with McGuinn singing.  The musical was intended as a prelude to even loftier plans that McGuinn had to produce a science-fiction film, tentatively titled Ecology 70 and starring former Byrd Gram Parsons who played in the band for 5 months in 1968 and Michelle Phillips an ex-member of The Mamas & the Papas, as a pair of intergalactic flower children.  According to McGuinn, Gene Tryp was supposed to include 23 songs, and supposedly most if not all would be recorded by The Byrds, but ultimately, Gene Tryp was abandoned.  The Byrds recorded six songs originally intended for Gene Tryp.  Four of the songs appeared on the band’s ninth (Untitled) album, and two more would end up on their next album, Byrdmaniax.

‘Just A Season’ was one of the Gene Tryp songs and it is not the same song as ‘Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)’ which was a huge number 1 in the US while, ‘Just A Season’ wasn’t.  This is an acoustic rock song where McGuinn is singing in character as Gene Tryp.  Musically it combines plenty of 12 string goodness with Clarence White’s tasteful string bending, which swirls around in the mix, while bassist Skip Battin and guitarist Gram Parsons lay down an understated rhythm section.  ‘Just A Season’ was issued on the b-side of ‘Chestnut Mare’.

If all my days was hills to climb and circles without reason
If all I was just passing time, my life was just a season
Dares and dreams and silly schemes and fillies running freely
I was young and no song was sung that didn’t sound appealing
I’d have my fun with a shy girl and maybe hop a train
And I’d look back at her standing in the rain
Dirty hands and root beer stands and money like a river
Making deals to see how it feels to get more than you’re giving
I’d have my fun with a gamblin man and bluff him with my face
And it’s drinks for everybody in the place
If all my days was hills to climb and circles without reason
If all I was just passing time my life was just a season
If all my days was hills to climb and circles without reason
If all I was just passing time my life was just a season
Shouting crowds and mummer’s shrouds and people going crazy
Always said what was in their heads it surely was amazing
I had my fun in the bull ring and never got a scar
It really wasn’t hard to be a star
If all my days was hills to climb and circles without reason
If all I was just passing time my life was just a season

Written for 12/23/18 Helen Vahdati’s This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time Song Lyric Sunday Theme where the prompt is “season”.

4 thoughts on “Drinks For Everybody In The Place

Comments are closed.