‘We could make really good music together': Two Byrds want a reunion; Roger McGuinn does not

The Byrds are still broken up, and Roger McGuinn — a confirmed solo artist — is apparently still fine with that. The same can’t be said for former bandmate David Crosby. In a way, though, Chris Hillman says he understands.

“I mean, hell, sometimes you’ve got old war wounds that have healed but fester again if opened,” the ex-Byrds bassist tells Goldmine. “Some of that stuff should be kept locked up. Maybe a short reunion, just a few shows, because it’s such great music. Part of me, truth be told, really wants to. Another part of me totally gets McGuinn’s logic. Hey, Roger is happy doing what he’s doing. His show is basically the Byrds, anyway.”

Reduced now to a trio after the deaths of Gene Clark and Michael Clarke, the Byrds last got together in 2000. Before that, the original lineup hadn’t played together since 1991, as the Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Roger doesn’t want to be in a band,” Crosby tells Guitar World. “He wants to be folkie and work by himself, and that’s frustrating to me and Chris, because we know we could make really good music together. There’s not even a question.”

Crosby has even agreed to work simply as a sideman, only to be rebuffed. That leaves Crosby and Hillman to their own small-scale get togethers. “I have a very good relationship with Chris Hillman,” Crosby adds. “He lives not too far me, so we have dinner together sometimes. I’ll go out to hear him and Herb Pedersen play country music, because they are the real deal.”

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  • Brigg Z

    Anyone who has ever lived with or loved an addict can tell you that it is hellish. I’m sure being in a band with young David Crosby was just that. Why would McGuinn want to reconnect with that nightmare and act like its a good time?

    As for Hillman, he is, as Crosby stated, the real deal. Guess what, that’s why he isn’t pushing it as hard. He has his own career outside of the Byrds and he’s successful. He doesn’t need the Byrds. Crosby is a fabulous singer, but he can’t get his own act together. He’s not a musician or a band leader. He needs McGuinn, or Neil Young, or Steven Stills to do all if the organizing and artistry, so he can just stand there and harmonize.

    I think it’s funny that Crosby offered to be a sideman if the Byrds reunite. It’s funny because that’s all Crosby ever was in any band, a sideman. While a bunch of world class musicians like McGuinn and Hillman are working their rear ends of Crosby smokes crack, stand there, sings harmony, then fights with everyone. That sounds like pretty awful band mate. McGuinn is too classy to deal with that again.

    • Bill Zebub

      BriggZ, we can agree that David Crosby is really annoying, and that McGuinn’s reluctance to work with him again is more than understandable. But to characterize him as being a sideman and nothing more flies in the face of reality. I won’t bother listing the many, many distinctive songs he wrote or co-wrote while a member of the Byrds, CSN, and as a solo artist. Unique chord changes and melodies, a powerful voice–of course he’s a musician, a good one. How good is obviously a matter of opinion, but your dismissal of him betrays a lack of knowledge. And this is coming from someone who thinks very little of him as a man.

      • Brigg Z

        Well said, Bill. I don’t know about those great songs he wrote. I’m sure they are indicative of a larger role, although he still seems like a leech.

        • jzsnake

          Sure he’s a leech. He wants to leech off of Neil Young too.

          • JC Mosquito

            If you would have asked me 10 or 15 years ago, I would’ve said that both Crosby & Nash were lightweights; that’s why Stills needed Young – to balance out the power within the group. However, after I got a hold of Crosby’s first album, Nash’s first, some of their duo stuff and Crosby’s box set, I began to see how talented both Crosby & Nash are, and how essential they are to the CS&N(& sometimes Y) legacy.

  • Stephen

    I saw CSN a couple weeks ago. I love all those guys, but for what it’s worth (no pun intended), of the new material they played Crosby’s was not only better than Nash’s, it was actually very good and worthy of inclusion in the set. It wasn’t just the lesser of new material evils at an otherwise greatest hits show.