Sunday, December 7, 2008

OCD Chronicles: The Byrds - Wasn't Born To Follow

The reality is, Easy Rider wasn’t that good of a movie. I remember watching it with my Dad, thinking it was going to be this groundbreaking event that really spoke to the Boomer generation and their “impact” on the social agenda, the passing of the guard if you will.
From what I gathered after watching it, Baby Boomers struck up big drug deals that enabled them to travel around the country on motorcycles and trip on acid with easy women in New Orleans before getting shot by rednecks.
Sorry. I forgot to put “Spoiler Alert!” before that last paragraph.
Even from a filmmaking standpoint, was everyone in the late sixties making movies about just driving around, totally removed from everyday responsibilities? I seriously would like to go back in time just to beat up a hippy. I totally love the ideology and some of the ideas that were prevalent from that era, but the more I read about what was really accomplished and how hypocritical the majority of the youth were back then, the more I can’t forgive them for totally dropping the ball on figuring out how to change the world.
At least Gen X, Gen Y and whatever the fuck the generation after that is called, were focused to the point where we could elect Obama.
Fuck, you dudes were Clinton supporters and fragmented yourselves to the point where you allowed Nixon to be elected not once, but twice.
Didn’t you outnumber that silent majority? I mean, aren’t we all now going broke to pay for your social security benefits as restitution for all of that late 60’s “revolution?”
Easy Rider has gotten an easy pass as some kind of anti-establishment landmark by a young filmmaker making a statement against the status quo. Watch it and you’ll see that it’s a weed-fueled project with a plot that has so many holes in it, you’ll wonder if they were baked when they started the cameras rolling and then forgot about what they were shooting about halfway through the project.
It’s entertaining to watch, but hardly groundbreaking.
Hell, wasn’t Jim Morrison making a similar project called HWY during the same time? I’m sure Mickey Fucking Dolenz was also making a movie called Road Construction or Merge Left, too.
Easy Rider was so dimwitted that the “genius” behind it, Peter Fonda, was unable to get a good role until someone told him to act like his father during Ulee’s Gold when he was in his sixties. Fonda resorted to becoming a retarded hippy for most of his career and strangely identified himself as some kind of two-wheeled hero, showing up at biker rallies and anything that required a star that made a career on riding motorcycles.
Jack Nicholson had the best role, and because he can pretty much act his way out of any script that’s handed to him, he was able to sustain a career after Easy Rider.
Dennis Hopper almost lost it afterwards too. He essentially sleepwalks through the script, smoking dope and making stoned observations with a baked giggle and referring to everyone as “man.” It took him ten years to get another good part (Apocalypse Now) and then another ten to restore his career (Blue Velvet).
The best thing about Easy Rider? The soundtrack. It’s a collection of period pieces that are sequenced in the same order as the songs appear on the film. It was the first time I heard “Wasn’t Born To Follow,” two minutes of Byrds bliss that originally appeared on their countrified The Notorious Byrd Brothers album.
What made this song stand out for me was that it was, vocally at least, obviously a Byrds song. Roger McGuinn’s voice is unmistakable, and I knew the same guy who had a hand in singing “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Eight Miles High” was also the one behind the microphone for “Wasn’t Born To Follow.”
But it was totally different sound, nearly country. And that length…2:03…it was gone so fast that you weren’t really sure if you heard it or if you were just imagining it.
I had the single, or more specifically, my Dad had the single and I played it. “The Ballad Of Easy Rider” was the “A” song but I didn’t dig that one. It was the flip, “Wasn’t Born To Follow,” that did it for me.
I especially liked the trippy solo towards the end, but later appreciated the lyrics.
It wasn’t until writing this post that I realized that “Wasn’t Born To Follow” was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. I had no idea they could come up with something this good. I mean, they’ve come up with some great songs obviously, but this seems out of character for them.

Oh I'd rather go and journey where the diamond crest is flowing and
across the valley beneath the sacred mountain and
Wander through the forest
Where the trees have leaves of prisms and break the light in colors
no one knows the names of

And when it's time I'll go and wait beside a
legendary fountain
Till I see your form reflected in it's clear and jewelled
And if you think I'm ready
You may lead me to the chasm where the
rivers of our vision
Flow into one another

I will want to die
beneath the white cascading waters
She may beg, she may plead, she may argue
with her logic
And then she'll know the things I learned
That really
have no value in the end she will surely know
I wasn't born to follow

1 comment:

Your Humble Proprietor said...

I have to watch "Gimme Shelter" every time I see it's on one of the music channels or IFC. It's my favorite Stones movie.

Just sayin'.