No future in England’s dreaming, goes the familiar refrain of the Sex Pistols’ 1977 punk anthem, the song that, if it didn’t invent the genre, at the very least gave it the mantra and mantle (and marketing potential) of disaffected youth. The punk-as-fuck Wax Idols…
Wrote this a year ago in honor of Gene’s birthday and think it deserves a bump, even if I now find some of the wording questionable. Ah well. Happy birthday, Mr. Clark, and thanks for all the amazing tunes.
Born on this day in 1944, Harold Eugene (Gene) Clark was an original member of the Byrds and a pioneer of several musical sub-genres, most notably country-rock, newgrass, baroque pop & alt country. He began his career playing in folk groups in Kansas City & was discovered by the New Christy Minstrels, with whom he played for 6 months before quitting the folk scene and heading to Los Angeles after hearing the Beatles.
Clark was responsible for penning many of the Byrds most well-known and loved songs, though his fellow Byrds failed to appreciate his contribution until years later (much of this due to jealousy of Clark’s large royalty checks). A crippling fear of flying forced Clark to leave the group in 1966. After leaving the Byrds, Clark released several killer solo records and worked with banjo genius Doug Dillard in a group aptly entitled Dillard & Clark, releasing 2 wonderful bluegrass-inspired country rock records. He continued releasing solo records throughout the 1970s including 1974’s psych-influenced No Other, unappreciated in its day but now revered as a masterpiece.
Gene Clark never received many accolades for his musical contributions until after his death from a heart attack in 1991. His music was often overlooked in favor of fellow country-rock genius Gram Parsons whose life, while no less tragic than Clark’s, made for a sexier story in the pages of rock history. Appreciation for Clark’s body of work has grown exponentially over the past 20 years and he is now regarded as one of the preeminent singer-songwriters of his generation and one whose indelible talents gave shape to the modern conception of American music.
Clark was buried in his hometown of Tipton, Missouri, a small town of 3,300 people. His tombstone bears a simple epitaph: No Other. What else is there to say?
“There’s a safety in thinking in a diner. You can have your coffee or your milk shake, and you can go off into strange dark areas, and always come back to the safety of the diner.”—David Lynch (via corcordium)