17. THE BYRDS - Renaissance Fair

THE BYRDS - 'My Back Pages'/'Renaissance Fair' (CBS 2648) May 1967

Forty four years ago, The Byrds released one of their finest ever singles. The top side being the impressive version of Dylan's 'My Back Pages' backed with the staggering psychedelic jewel 'Renaissance Fair'.

It's safe to say that The Byrds have been my favourite group for almost 30 years ever since I bought my first Byrds LP titled 'The Byrds - the original singles 1967-1969' from Boots in Sunderland sometime in 1982. I remember being hugely disappointed with the country side which I just didn't get. To me the songs sounded like background music I'd heard on some episodes of Dallas, probably when the Ewing's hosted the 'Oil Baron's Ball'......lol......

But I was completely in awe of the psych side. Listening to this side with songs of the calibre of 'Have You Seen Her Face', 'Lady Friend', 'Goin' Back' and 'Change Is Now' quite simply CHANGED MY LIFE...
At 16 years of age I had found my musical heroes and I set out on a mission to own everything they ever recorded.

'Renaissance Fair' was one such song on that album that made my head spin with it's glorious sound and mystical words. I could only imagine what The Byrds looked like because no photo of them was on either side of the cover.

my life changing Byrds album
Renaissance Fair was the name of one of the very first Love-Ins in Los Angeles and this is Crosby's vivid account of this medieval type festival of music. His song describes the event in a dream like sequence, focusing on the individual senses of hearing, smell and sight to convey his sensation of wonderment.

Anyone who has ever experienced an acid trip will no doubt know where Crosby is coming from.

It was a hit in USA (released March 1967) but sank without trace in the UK.

I think that maybe I'm dreaming...

I smell cinnamon and spices
I hear music everywhere
All around kaleidoscope of color
I think that maybe I'm dreaming...

Maids pass gracefully in laughter
Wine coloured flowers in their hair
Flags call from lands I've never been to
I think that maybe I'm dreaming...

Sun splash on a soda of prism
Bright jewels on the ladies flashing
Eyes catch on a shiny prism
Hear ye the crying of the vendors
Fruit for sale wax candles for to burn
Fires flare soon it will be night fall
I think that maybe I'm dreaming...

David Crosby soothes his lysergic head with a book


  1. An absolute favourite!
    Your recolecction of hearing the Byrds at around 17 are very much like my own...just a few years later.
    I was totally blown away by "Younger than Yesterday" when I finally listened to the whole album.
    Also not long after that I was quite intrigued when I bought British Psychedelic Trip vol.3 that opened with a version by Human Instinct, the first cover of this song I ever heard.
    The Byrds, particularly of around this period, were clearly a favourite among British bands as witnessed by Tomorrow's version of "Why" and the Pretty Things doing this live, "Renaissance Fair" as late as 1969.

  2. Great piece as always! I did not pick up on the post '66 Byrds until a bit later so alas my introduction to this track was a version by The Human Instinct on a 1987 "British Psychedelic Trip" LP comp as Aldo mentioned!

  3. Good point aldo...another one from the top of my head is 'So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star' covered by The Move,a version of 'Renaissance Fair' by The Orange Bicycle and Marmalade recorded a version of 'Mr Tambourine Man' using The Byrds arrangement.

    I'm sure there will be others.

  4. How could I forget the Move, but of course!
    Besides, they are all released versions what you mention unlike the Pretty Things or Tomorrow...
    The Move would also do things like "Going back" and "The Christian life" (yeah, I know...) on BBC Sessions or Colour Me Pop TV show...

  5. Again, pure brilliance. Chris Hillman's bass playing really shone in this period. Such a tight performance and composition, not to mention the saxophone that lies burried in the mix behind McGuinn's Rick.

    Hey aldo, I like "The Christian Life"...!

  6. I've never dropped acid, probably why I think this song is pretentious nonsense.

    That and Crosby had too much involvement in it.

    I'll take "Have You Seen Her Face" any time of the day or night.

  7. Good God, it does not get any better than this, absolute perfection. A beautiful brilliant
    track, Crosby is a genius and Colin this is the best track you have ever blogged.

  8. @Jingle jangle mourning,

    I LOVE that picture of the Byrds...is it a Danish 45 or something?
    Beautiful!I've never seen it before.

    About Christian Life, I listened to Sweetheart lots of times and I'm quite happy with it...but anything before it just blows it away!

  9. The pic sleeve is the release in Holland and comes from 'Flower Bomb Songs' friend and Dutch record collector Jim Wynand.

    Jim has supplied several super cool scans and ephemera in the past.

  10. After my last comment I had a quick google search and came across that picture in Wikipedia but maybe incorrectly, it says German picture sleeve

  11. I have the same picture sleeve as well, mine says Benelux on the back
    but made in Holland on the record.

  12. I have got a bootleg book about the Byrds called"Back Pages", and it shows the German pic sleeve for this 45, and it is really neat and different.

  13. I just remembered other Byrds covers from 60s UK bands...the Action doing "I see you" on a BBC sessions from few yrs ago...and (long pause) YES doing the same song on their debut LP!

  14. One more cover to add to the list, a storming "8 Miles High" on the
    CD version of East Of Eden's 1st
    album "Mercator Projected".

  15. Bumped into Mr Crosby at the Airport the other day, still singing great. thanks for all your stuff.


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