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*7.08-CHANGE IS NOW (Byrds)

Byrds 1968

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[Intro]

Change is now, change is now--
Things that seemed to be solid are not.
All is now, all is now--
The time that we have to live.

     Gather all that we can--
     Keep in harmony with love's sweet plan.

[Break]

Truth is real, truth is real--
That which is not real does not exist.
In and out roundabout--
Dance to the day when fear it is gone.

     [Chorus]

Change is now, change is now--
Things that seemed to be solid are not.
In and out roundabout--
Dance to the day when fear it is gone.
Fear it is gone. (2x)


Only one single came from Notorious Byrd Brothers, and Change is Now was the B side to a rather poor showing on the charts. (The A side is not part of the psychedelic aesthetic, but rather a nostalgic pop song written by Carole King & Gerry Goffin.) Though McGuinn was one of the writers of the tune, he was dismissive of the lyrics in a 1969 interview quoted by Johnny Rogan (The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited, p. 240-247), saying it was "another one of those guru-spiritual-mystic songs that no-one understood." However, outside of John Lennon, George Harrison and possibly Bob Dylan, few lyricists were yet making an attempt to philosophize on a pop record at this stage of the countercultural movement. The song seems to advise that dancing the night away will get rid of the fear of the unknown. There’s still a belief in “love’s sweet plan” but it’s shot through with doubt. A fear (real or not) has taken hold of the poet’s consciousness and he seeks to alleviate it with good times.

The song begins with an electric twelve string guitar that is immediately recognizable as traditional Byrds, going all the way back to Tambourine Man. The verses follow a drone pattern that is more psychedelic, but the chorus is a country square dance, a do-se-do. (Wikipedia points out that this is the only track in which we hear both the outgoing psychedelic David Crosby’s droning guitar improvisations and the future Byrd, Clarence White, playing steel guitar.) The shift in tone is disorienting, and leads into a droning psychedelic break between two guitars reminiscent of the Byrds’ What’s Happening?!?! back in 1966, though lasting longer and taken to greater extremes. The break perhaps features the best of Roger McGuinn’s psychedelic guitar solos. Afterward, we return to the verse, followed by the country chorus, then a restatement of the previous two verses with the lyrics combined differently. The song ends with the twelve string guitar sound that introduced it, repeating a dance to the day when fear is gone.

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