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*7.12-DOLPHIN'S SMILE (Byrds)

Byrds

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[Intro]

Out at sea for a year
Floating free from all fear.
     Every day blowin' spray
     In a dolphin's smile.

Wind-taut line split the sky,
Curling crest rolling by.
     Floating free aimlessly
     In a dolphin's smile.

[Break]

Rainbow's end everywhere,
Full of light, free as air.
     Childhood's dream,
     Have you ever seen a dolphin's smile?

[Coda]

While Bob Dylan fretted about There must be some way out of here!, the plea for alternate consciousness in All Along the Watchtower, David Crosby thought he had found that escape and ultimate freedom through sailing out at sea for a year. The laughing dolphins attracted to his sailboat must have felt like a good omen, and their smiles reassuring. The poet claims to be floating free from all fear, and sounds perfectly happy living out the dreams of his childhood, out at sea and at the end of the rainbow. But while Crosby withdrew from the Byrds to follow childhood’s dream, the group held onto his song and used their own production of it. I don’t know how Crosby might have presented it.

However, I must say that the Byrds, their producer Gary Usher, and their engineers Roy Halee & Don Thompson did a fine presentation. In his first post Summer of Love production, Usher had a lot of new technology to play with. Sometimes he made some bad decisions on Notorious Byrd Brothers but here, the Moog synthesizer accurately evokes the squeaky voices of dolphins and sets up the scene perfectly. The melody pitches back and forth in waves for the first two lines of each verse, followed by a more melodic fragment evocative of country music, much like other songs on the album. I thank God that on this cut of the album a steel guitar wasn’t introduced. The break features a loud electric guitar bending notes in a manner eerily reminiscent of the Doors during Robby Kreiger’s long and weeping solo in When the Music’s Over, but the Byrds suggest an underwater environment as if one were scuba diving. The song ends by repeating the song’s chords on acoustic guitar, accompanied by the tinkling of a small clear nautical bell.

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