Entry count: 4487
The Byrds cover Bob Dylan for their debut single

The Byrds

Mr Tambourine Man

Released: April 11th, 1965

Tracks The Byrds Bob Dylan

The events we write about at Gaslight Records happened in some form or another 50 years ago to the day. Roll along with us and imagine you are back in 1969.

Support Gaslight Records

The Byrds first single, "Mr Tambourine Man", was released on 12 April 1965. It was also the title track for the band's debut album. Only three weeks earlier it had been included on Bob Dylan’s fifth studio album titled Bringing It All Back Home.

The Byrds' first exposure to the song was via a discarded studio outtake which featured Ramblin’ Jack Elliot on vocals in the chorus. The outtake had originally been intended for release on Dylan’s 1964 album Another Side Of Bob Dylan, but was instead re-recorded and held back until Dylan's next album.

After listening to Mr Tambourine Man, Dylan responded, “Wow, you can dance to that!”

Only three of the original Byrds band members were present for the recording of the single because their manager wasn’t yet confident in the group’s ability to record the track unassisted. Roger McGuinn sang lead vocals, he was also the only original band member to play an instrument on the recording. The rest of the parts were performed by a group of session musicians who later became known as The Wrecking Crew.

The mix of sustain and reverb in the guitar tracks is now considered a pioneering sound. Some even argue that it represents the first example of folk rock.

The Byrds cover Bob Dylan for their debut single
The Byrds shot to fame in 1965 with their cover of Bob Dylan's Mr Tambourine Man

In March 1965, The Byrds’ band manager, Jim Dickson, invited Dylan to hear The Byrds' pop rendition of his song. After listening to Mr Tambourine Man, Dylan responded, “Wow, you can dance to that!” He then made an unannounced appearance at Le Ciro’s Le Disc, where The Byrds had taken up residency to rehearse for their upcoming recording sessions. Dylan shared vocals with Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark on Jimmy Reed’s "Baby What You Want Me To Do".

Dylan remained a fan of Roger McGuinn’s interpretations of his songs for some time. In 1969 when Dylan was asked to write a song for the Easy Rider soundtrack, he instead quickly wrote down on a tissue: “The river flows, it flows to the sea/Wherever that river goes, that's where I want to be/Flow, river, flow”. Roger McGuinn used these lyrics as the foundation for "Ballad of Easy Rider", which Dylan requested not to receive credit for.

And yet, in the famous interview between Bob Dylan and A.J Weberman in 1971, when asked for a response to Roger McGuinn’s comments about him in Creem magazine, Dylan responded ‘You can just say, Fuck him Man.’ So as always where Bob Dylan is concerned, who knows what to believe?

The Byrds cover Bob Dylan for their debut single
Bob Dylan on stage with The Byrds at Ciro's Le Disc - March 1965

Other versions of this track

More recent news

Watch Roy Orbison perform 'Oh, Pretty Woman' with Johnny Cash last week

News

October 4th, 1969: Watch Roy Orbison perform "Oh, Pretty Woman" with Johnny Cash last week

Orbison appeared on The Johnny Cash Show in Nashville

 
Mixtape October 1969

Mixtapes

October 1st, 1969: Mixtape October 1969

It's the end of Summer 1969, here's what I'm listening to.

 
Tyrannosaurus Rex released a new single 'Pewter Suitor' this week - Listen

News

October 1st, 1969: Tyrannosaurus Rex released a new single "Pewter Suitor" this week - Listen

The new single was left off the band's album Unicorn, from earlier this year.

 
'I was just about all through as a man' Johnny Cash talks to Richard Green of NME

Interviews

October 1st, 1969: "I was just about all through as a man" Johnny Cash talks to Richard Green of NME

Cash gave a brief interview recently while visiting London

 
The Beatles have released their new album Abbey Road - Listen

News

September 26th, 1969: The Beatles have released their new album Abbey Road - Listen

In the same week as John Lennon quit the band, The Beatles have released a new album

 
Listen to alternate takes of Bob Dylan's 'Lay Lady Lay' and 'I Pity The Poor Immigrant'

News

September 26th, 1969: Listen to alternate takes of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" and "I Pity The Poor Immigrant"

Alternate cuts of tracks from Dylan's last two albums

 
Billy Preston releases new album produced by George Harrison: Listen

News

September 26th, 1969: Billy Preston releases new album produced by George Harrison: Listen

His new album features contributions from George Harrison, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Doris Troy

 
The Doors headlined the Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Revival last Saturday night

News

September 24th, 1969: The Doors headlined the Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Revival last Saturday night

With John Lennon watching from the front row, The Doors included part of "Eleanor Rigby" in their solo - Listen

 
The Band release follow-up album to Music From Big Pink - Listen

News

September 23rd, 1969: The Band release follow-up album to Music From Big Pink - Listen

The new self-titled album was recorded in Los Angeles and New York this year. Read a review by Mike Jahn and find the group's upcoming tour dates.

 
Watch Creedence Clearwater Revival perform on American Bandstand last Friday

News

September 23rd, 1969: Watch Creedence Clearwater Revival perform on American Bandstand last Friday

CCR interviewed with Dick Clark and performed "Green River"

 
'The group's over, I'm leaving.' John Lennon quits The Beatles

News

September 23rd, 1969: "The group's over, I'm leaving." John Lennon quits The Beatles

John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were signing their new recording contract when Lennon dropped the news

 
Watch Ramblin' Jack Elliott perform on 'The Johnny Cash Show' last night

News

September 19th, 1969: Watch Ramblin' Jack Elliott perform on "The Johnny Cash Show" last night

Ramblin' Jack and Cash performed a duet of "Take Me Home"

 
Loading more