Lover of the Bayou - the Byrds
Back in the early seventies, every city in England had a few thousand seater plus venues with a world class band on just about every weekend at affordable prices. There were no spectacular light shows for the most part, just a rudimentary row of spots shining down, stacks of speakers on either side of the stage, and that wonderful buzz of people talking in a big venue and the odd instrument warming up, the vacant stage with mic stands and a drum kit like a giant spider in the centre, just before the announcement, usually by some longhaired guy in cords, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the "whoever it was that week". And on they'd come. This live recording by the Byrds from their 1970 album "Untitled" album is the only track I've found that perfectly captures that room atmosphere and feeling of excitement of the first number by the main band on the night. Every time I hear it, I'm back there.
Like last night's offering, this is a McGuinn / Levy composition performed by the best live Byrds line-up ever with McGuinn on guitar and vocals, Clarence White on lead guitar, Gene Parsons on bass and Skip Battin on drums. And boy do they rock, serving up a steamy brew of voodoo magic and swamp food, glorifying in its sinister mystery, right from the first line:
"Catfish pie in a gris gris bag
I'm the lover of the bayou"
a gris gris bag being a amulet that wards off evil spirits, and they follow it up with
"...I was raised and swam with the crocodile Snake-eye taught me the Mojo style Sucked and weaned on chicken bile I'm the lover of the bayou...."
"...and I got cat's an' teeth and hair for sale"
"....I cooked a bat in a gumbo pan I drank the blood from a rusty can..."
I confess I saw Roger McGuinn and the Thunderbyrds (see yesterday's post) at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester round about 1975 and this was their opening song and I'm still casting spells to this day. I'm the lover of the bayou. Yeah.