Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of concerts by people I grew up with in the 60’s. People like Judy Collins, The Turtles, The Monkees, Three Dog Night, The Cowsills, Arlo Guthrie and now Roger McGuinn. All these people are in their 70’s now and I’m convinced that music keeps you young. They all still look great and sound the way they always did. Roger McGuinn is no exception.
Jim McGuinn, later known as Roger, was already a veteran of the New York and Los Angeles music scene when he co-founded the group that would become the Byrds with Gene Clark and David Crosby in 1964. Roger McGuinn, prior to forming the Byrds, toured and performed folk music with the Limeliters, Chad Mitchell Trio and Bobby Darin as a guitarist and banjo player.
This is the third time in 20 years we’ve seen Roger and we never get tired of hearing his music and stories even though it is the exact same act. I love Roger’s mild and folksy way of telling the stories of his life and playing the songs from that period in his life. Each song had a story connected to it. It never ceases to amaze me how these singers can do the same act night after night year after year and still sound fresh and personal. Roger is 74.
On Friday night’s concert Roger came walking out on stage with his Rickenbacker electric guitar singing the Bob Dylan song “My Back Pages,” (“Ahh but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now”) and got the audience singing along. Roger proceeded to tell the stories of first starting out and singing in coffee houses in Calif. and Greenwich Village in the New York City meeting people like the Chad Mitchell trio and singing with them for a while, then various members of what was later to become the hit group The Byrds.
Roger did songs like Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Mr. Spaceman, “So You Want to be a Rock N Roll Star,” “Eight Miles High.” “Turn, Turn, Turn” and many others while telling stories of the origins of each one.
Roger accompanied himself on electric guitar, acoustic guitar,12 string acoustic guitar and banjo. His fingers are so nimble and all over that each guitar sounds like three guitars.
One amusing story he told that was new was when he was asked to speak at a children’s music school. When the teacher introduced him she told the students he had been playing for 50 years. He said the kids’ eyes seemed glazed over. She then said that 50 is half of 100.They still seemed glazed over and after he played a few songs one little girl said, “Wow! He’s awesome” to which her friend replied, “Well he’s been playing for 50 million years.”
Roger told the story about when Hollywood was doing a low budget biker movie with Peter Fonda in it and they wanted some pop music songs for it. So Peter met with Bob Dylan and Bob wrote a few words down on a napkin and gave it to Peter and said “Give this to McGuinn he’ll know what to do with it.” Peter went to Roger’s house and gave him the napkin and Roger came up with ‘”The ballad of Easy Rider,” for the film. Roger then did the song he wrote for the movie “Easy Rider.”
Roger closed his show with the Irish tune “When the road rises to meet you” which I’ve always loved. Roger puts on a good show with good music and very upbeat and enjoyable. If you get a chance to see him then by all means do so. The picture here is one I took of him on the marquee.
https://youtu.be/E_hzF08yWu4 Hear Roger sing “When the road rises to meet you.”
ROGER MCGUINN: “CHESTNUT MARE” Live at Monmouth University, 4/24/15 – YouTube (This is one of my favorites)