Roger McGuinn, ex-Byrd, tells his Dylan stories

Completing a short English solo tour in St Albans last week, Roger McGuinn spared us his born-again folkie stuff and focused mainly on the luminous Byrds legacy.

His likeable 90-minute performance thrilled the crowd of 500 ageing pop-pickers, well up for a night of comforting nostalgia. In delivering it, McGuinn, using only his 12-string Rickenbacker and his 7(!)-string Martin HD-7 acoustic, demonstrated that he’s a fine multifaceted musician and singer, and an engaging, generous-minded raconteur.

His debt to Dylan was all over the evening. As well as My Back Pages, the opener, McGuinn explored the Zim locker with Mr Tambourine Man, All I Really Want To Do and You Ain’t Going Nowhere, plus the Dylan-influenced Ballad Of Easy Rider.

He recounted his story of the writing of The Ballad Of Easy Rider – how Dylan, too busy to supply a song for the movie soundtrack, scribbles a few lines of lyrics on a paper tissue, gives it to lead actor Peter Fonda, tells him to fly coast-to-coast and hand it personally to Roger – “Give it to McGuinn, he’ll finish it…”.

McGuinn also recounted how, when The Byrds first played Dylan their version of All I Really Want To Do in the studio, he expressed a liking for the song – before being reminded that he’d written it!


Gerry Smith


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