Saturday, August 13, 2016

Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group) Tribute To Gene Clark's "Eight Miles High" and Sandy Pearlman

"Eight Miles High", released in March 1966, is a true psychedelic classic. It is credited to Gene Clark, David Crosby, and Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, but the principal composer was Gene Clark. McGuinn contributed a title change from "six" to "eight" miles high, and the stunning guitar work. Crosby, the high harmonies and a single couplet (which begins "rain gray town..."). The rest was pure Gene Clark, who said he wrote it while discussing The Byrds UK tour with Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones. Although Gene Clark returned to work with some or all of the original Byrds occasionally, he effectively left the band in February 1966 to embark on a solo career. Despite releasing magnificent work such as White Light and No Other, he remains best known for his work on Byrds classics such as Mr. Tambourine ManTurn Turn TurnEight Miles High, and I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better.

"Eight Miles High" has been covered by many people over the years, notably by Bob Mould and Husker Du, but here's a pretty great version by members of Patti Smith's band:

Daniel Andreu shot this video in Madrid at the Jardin Botanico, July 8, 2016 at a performance of Patti Smith and her band.

Patti left the stage during this song, a cover of The Byrds' "Eight Miles High", which was sung by Jack Petruzzelli and Patti's long-term cohorts bassist Tony Shanahan and guitarist extraordinaire Lenny Kaye.

Lenny, after musing about the moon and Jupiter, clearly visible from the stage, and the Juno space probe to Jupiter "finding out things about our solar system which are really science fictional", introduced the song thusly: 

"...and we'd like to do a song by the most science fictional of bands... we give you... The Byrds..."

Kaye, who has been with Patti Smith since 1974, curated the Nuggets collection, which defined garage rock psychedelia for the ages. He recently wrote a very nice piece (see below) about the late great Sandy Pearlman on Patti Smith's website. Apparently Lenny Kaye and Sandy Pearlman both were super fans of The Byrds.

Pearlman had written that The Byrds are "visually perfect mythic imagery" and "The Byrds swim in mystery…"

Just one question: Will Patti join the band in performing Gene Clark's "Eight Miles High" in concert in the future and make it a regular part of her set as she embarks on various concerts celebrating the 40th anniversary of her classic album "Horses"? Let's hope so...

Lenny Kaye's moving tribute to Sandy Pearlman...


August 5, 1943 – July 26, 2016

Sandy calls me on the first day of winter. He's excited we're coming to San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Maybe he'll stay with us and travel up to Seattle. He has some restaurants he wants us to try, and we can't wait to play him the version of the Byrds' "8 Miles High" we've worked up. For Sandy, the Byrds are "visually perfect mythic imagery," as he writes in 1971, in The History of Los Angeles, of which only excerpts have appeared.

"The Byrds swim in mystery…," he raptures, this most futuristic of the first generation of rock "critics" who will change the way popular music might be discussed and annotated in the pages of Crawdaddy!, on his way to channeling his epic poem Imaginos into the creation of ecstatic sound. He celebrates the "nostalgic technologies: magic, science and religion, sci-fi, Child ballads, hill ballads, 'serious' C&W chestnuts…." Technology as transcendence. Imaginos, the cosmos of the mind's universe.

Sandy's vision was always focused on what happens next. He saw the power of Heavy Metal – indeed, he named it – as a vehicle for myth, and through his instigation and guidance, Blue Oyster Cult, once Soft White Underbelly, earned their place as hard rock's foremost thinkers, no mean feat in a genre that celebrates blunt force; and carried this sensibility into his work with Pavlov's Dog, the Dictators, the Clash, and his heightened analog studio, Alpha and Omega, where the Fairchild compressor took pride of place. Yet he was never digital-phobic, seeing immediately the possibilities of song delivery and how the business of disseminating music would transform in the twenty first century.

To follow the synapses of his consciousness was to rocket-ride into hyperspace. His teaching blended erudite and Aphrodite. He lectured Pearlmanology at McGill, Stanford, and the University of Toronto, and when we spoke on that December afternoon, only hours before he suffered the stroke that grounded his astral traveling, he told me that he was going to teach a spring course at Stony Brook. I asked him what his subject would be. He hadn't decided but namechecked the 19th century composer Anton Bruckner. I planned to attend, so I too might learn and be illuminated, in the same way appreciating Sandy's thought processes in Crawdaddy! inspired me to take up the qwertyuiop and begin to understand and scribe my own responses to what I listened to, and what I would become.

Now I will put on the 8th Symphony, the last Bruckner completed in his lifetime, its dissonances and resolves and crescendos so like life itself, and allow Sandy to guide me through its sonorities and transfigurations, so like Sandy himself. 

—Lenny Kaye 

                                                        Sandy Pearlman RIP    photo: David Ramage 

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