Harold Eugene “Gene” Clark (November 17, 1944 – May 24, 1991) was an American singer-songwriter, and one of the founding members of the folk-rock group The Byrds. He did write some of The Byrds’ best songs, among them: “Feel A Whole Lot Better”, “Here Without You” and “Set You Free This Time”.
Gene Clark – Two Sides To Every Story
|Thomas Jefferson Kaye
Gene Clark will always be best remembered for years as a vocalist with the Byrds. A fine legacy to be sure, but the shame of it is that there was far more to Clark’s body of work than that; he was a superb songwriter, one of the founding fathers of country-rock, and recorded a number of fine albums with an impressive array of collaborators whose quality far outstripped their modest sales figures. (Read more at allmusic.com)
This is an album that has been difficult to get. But now it is finally beeing rereleased on cd (according to Uncut magazine), it was planned released in the summer of 2011, sadly it didn’t happen. I’m hoping all legal issues have been solved now, and that we finally can get a new and, hopefully, remastered version of this forgotten masterpiece. Update: I read somewhere that august 2013 is the new release month for the re-issue, fingers crossed!
Edit: I have done a bit research on different releases, and there appears to have been at least two cd releases before. Well, I cannot find them and have to wait for the much talked about re-release.
I have an old vinyl lp that I have ripped to digital format (I have put the record player away on the loft somewhere…), it doesn’t sound as good but it’s what I got at the moment. I really look forward to getting the re-issue.
Two Sides was Gene Clark’s last solo album for a major label. Signed to RSO Records shortly after his wildly experimental (and occasionally engaging) 1974 Elektra album, No Other, which is often cited as his masterpiece, Clark and producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye released this. Two Sides is a much lower-key affair, and it succeeds on many more levels than the more heralded No Other. Clark’s explorations into country music are much more at home on this album, as tracks such as “Mary Lou” and “Kansas City Southern” demonstrate. Oddly, one of the highlights of this record is a non-Clark composition, the traditional “In the Pines,” which showcases Clark’s brilliant (and underrated) vocal ability. The following year would see Clark team up with ex-Byrd mates Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman on the forgettable McGuinn, Clark & Hillman project. Two Sides shows Clark in full command of his awesome gifts. Essential for Gene Clark enthusiasts.
– Matthew Greenwald
Two Sides To Every Story came out in January 1977 (exact date ?), and for the most part offered more characteristic Gene Clark country-rock. The ballads are the highlights on the records, especially “Give my love to Marie”, “Hear the wind” and the last two songs on the album are outstandig.
- “Home Run King” (Clark)
- “Lonely Saturday” (Clark)
- “In the Pines” (Traditional)
- “Kansas City Southern” (Clark)
- “Give My Love to Marie” (James Talley)
- “Sister Moon” (Clark)
- “Marylou” (Obie Jessie, Sam Ling)
- “Hear the Wind” (Clark)
- “Past Addresses” (Clark)
- “Silent Crusade” (Clark)
Give My Love to Marie:
The Critics then didn’t fare well with the album, they were , as always, extremeley negative towards Gene Clark. This didn’t help with his self esteem, and the terrible review in Rolling Stone must have felt like the last nail in the coffin of his career. He never released an album on a major label after this.
Rolling Stone Magazine:To those who admire Gene Clark, Two Sides to Every Story is a heartbreaker—in the worst way. (“Is this the dullest album ever made?” was my original opening sentence. “Probably” would have been the second.) Lugubrious to the point of laughableness, the once-classy Clark creeps through a series of Gibranian ballads that is so Antonioni-slow the songs actually seem to stop. Dead. Like this. Bereft of either interest or ideas, this plodding work can only be described as California-liturgidical.Interlarded among the endlessness are some lame bluegrass (“Home Run King,” “In the Pines”), listless rock & roll (“Marylou”) and the worst train song ever (“Kansas City Southern”). Producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye is a great help, offering an interminable supply of nothing but the moldiest clichés.
This is terribly unjust and a review that is not possible to understand when listening to the album. This is an undiscovered treasure, a record that sometimes even surpasses No Other, his masterpiece.
Even with the chaos and missteps, this is a record that overcomes its flaws, offering moments of hard-won beauty and open-hearted grandeur from an artist fighting for his career.
Sister Moon (audio) with Emmylou Harris:
Featured guest musicians include Emmylou Harris, Byron Berline, Doug Dillard and Al Perkins. Like most of Clark’s albums, it failed to get far on the charts.
Album highlight, Hear The Wind:
Relief Block print by Stephen Alcorn
Gram Parsons was a master songwriter both on his own and in collaboration with others. It is no wonder that his songs are covered by many artists. I have picked some of the best ones and hereby present my Top 7 Gram Parsons Cover songs.
1) Jay Farrar’s wonderful rendition of Drugstore Truck Drivin’ Man (and Christine’s Tune as a bonus). Jay Farrar has a great voice, and he’s a good performer, this music just fits. He gets to pay tribute to the country part of his roots. Just fantastic!
“He’s been like a father to me
He’s the only DJ you can hear after three
I’m an all night musician in a rock ‘n’ roll band
And why he don’t like me, I can’t understand”
Written By Gram Parsons and Roger McGuinn
The song Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man details a moderately unpleasant on-air exchange between Ralph Emery and Roger McGuinn, the lead singer of the 1960s rock group The Byrds, concerning their 1968 appearance at The Grand Ole Opry. In that performance, the Byrds attempted unsuccessfully to convince traditional country music fans that their developing country rock sound was a legitimate part of the tradition.
2) I’ve chosen , A song for you performed by Whiskeytown (great vocal by Ryan Adams) and performed by Justin Townes Earle.
I couldn’t just pick one them, they’re both so god dam good and very different.
Justin Townes Earle:
“…So take me down to your dance floor
And I won’t mind the people when they stare
Paint a different color on your front door
And tomorrow we will still be there…”
Written by Gram Parsons
Here is a great compliment: “The song is absolutely hopeless, beyond despair. It’s the saddest song I’ve ever heard.” That was Rolling Stone magazine’s description of A Song for You in March 1973, reviewing the album on which it featured, GP.
3) My Uncle performed by Steve Earle.
Steve Earle is a hero of ours and a list like this would not be complete without him. That said, he gives a fantastic interpretation of My Uncle from The Flying Burrito Brothers’ Guilded Palace of Sin.
Steve Earle My Uncle:
“A letter came today from the draft board
With trembling hands I read the questionnaire
It asked me lots of things about my mama and papa
Now that ain’t what I call exactly fair
So I’m heading for the nearest foreign border
Vancouver may be just my kind of town
Because they don’t need the kind of law and order
That tends to keep a good man underground..”
Written by Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons.