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The Byrds — Eight Miles High
Album: Fifth Dimension
Avg rating:
7.9

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1932









Released: 1966
Length: 3:31
Plays (last 30 days): 2
Eight miles high
And when you touch down
You'll find that it's stranger than known
Signs in the street
That say where you're going
Are somewhere just being their own

Nowhere is
There warmth to be found
Among those afraid of losing their ground
Rain-gray town
Known for its sound
In places, small faces unbound

Round the squares
Huddled in storms
Some laughing, some just shapeless forms
Sidewalk scenes
And black limousines
Some living, some standing alone
Comments (235)add comment
No, not one compressors, but TWO, in series!
 
capandjudy wrote:

I read that Roger McGuinn used a lot of compression on his Rickenbacker 12 string to get that Byrds guitar sound. 
 

I JUST heard Crosby say (from a 1966 interview), "It always feels like we just landed [the Lear Jet] as we finish playing 8 Miles High".

As I caught the last part of this playing, I JUST finished listening to a 1966 interview of McGuinn and Crosby talk  about writing  8 Miles High, choosing the Byrds name, and just finishing the whole Fifth Dimension album.  I also listened to the whole album for the first time.  The album was the Columbia "Legacy" version @1996 by Sony.com.  It appears to have come from a single CD, ripped at 256k but I don't think it was remastered.  Further, I just listened to RP's FLAC version.  RP's version I just heard was "many miles higher" in quality.   I was not impressed with the 256k CD quality of  8 Miles High at all.  The mixing on the rest of the album, as much of that era's music was not great.  But then most listening was done on mono AM radio.  RP's version made me feel better about me rating this cut as a 10, and well worthy.

The album came with 5 bonus tracks, which included that interview.  McGuinn and Crosby sounded just like any kids that were on 18-20 years old in the 60's.  What was very cool, is the album came with 18 pages of commentary and pics.  There's also a FLAC version of the 11 track original out there, which is what RP just played?

McGuinn lives locally here in Orlando and is still playing gigs nationwide.  He's got a special 6 string he co-produced that supposedly can provide the sound of the 12 string RB... and, is only about $5,600!

 
cely wrote:
I used to unconsciously judge a song on its melody, lyrics and prominenet features alone.  Incrementally I've moved on to trying to hear every instrument and the way they all work together.  With its disonant bass and guitar parts, this one is fascinating.  And way beyond most of the rock from its era.  An era in which it was possible to be dissonant and still popular.  Sad we aren't there anymore. 
 
Amazing band. Who else rocked like that?? The whole thing is one minute about to fall apart, then soar way up high to the heavens. Love the Byrds, 10.
 dboseman wrote:
OMG I love Radio Paradise.  The best "station" of my life.  Thanks Bill.
 

 kurtster wrote:

Pretty much how I felt.  I was 14 in L A  then and this was a game changer.  This weren't surf music.  Then a few months later at Christmas of 66, L A 's other house band, The Doors released Light My Fire and the lid was off of the box.
 
13 when it came out. I remember it so well. And the Doors. Set me up for Are You Experienced. It was all good..
 junebaby65 wrote:
Yea, first time I heard it when I was 12 I just sat there going, "What is this?"
 
Pretty much how I felt.  I was 14 in L A  then and this was a game changer.  This weren't surf music.  Then a few months later at Christmas of 66, L A 's other house band, The Doors released Light My Fire and the lid was off of the box.
OMG I love Radio Paradise.  The best "station" of my life.  Thanks Bill.
I used to unconsciously judge a song on its melody, lyrics and prominenet features alone.  Incrementally I've moved on to trying to hear every instrument and the way they all work together.  With its disonant bass and guitar parts, this one is fascinating.  And way beyond most of the rock from its era.  An era in which it was possible to be dissonant and still popular.  Sad we aren't there anymore. 
Golden Earing makes a little bit harder and better(For me)
 charbo wrote:
The lead guitar is an homage to John Coltrane. Tasty licks.
 
Yes, it's an interesting story:
"'Eight Miles High' actually came about as a tribute to John Coltrane. It was our attempt to play jazz."  - Roger McGuinn
 rpdevotee wrote:
Absolutely love this guitaring {#Bananajam}So original
 

Yea, first time I heard it when I was 12 I just sat there going, "What is this?"
F**** Yeah!!
I love the "sloppy" guitar work in this song.  Once I heard a cleaner version demo they did with the guitar more "controlled" and coherent, and it just didn't sound as cool.
I haven't listened for a while.  I haven't heard this song in forever.  I love it.  Sooo much history.  It psychedelacized me before I ever took any psychedelics.  Gateway music?  Thanks for the play Bill.
 Alastair wrote:
Still sounds like the guitarist is getting his fingers stuck in the strings
 
Yes, it contributes to the unique sonic space of this song.  

Folks like to argue whether this song is about doing "drugs" or flying in a jet airliner but I would like to think it is a celebration of astral travelling.  
Nice segue from "40 Feet" to "Eight Miles High". {#Wink}
great song great band
Yes siree. 
Still sounds like the guitarist is getting his fingers stuck in the strings
Blew me away when heard this when I was 13.
Concert Review: Ex-Byrds Deliver Stirring ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ Tribute

At the Theatre at Ace Hotel, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman were joined by Marty Stuart — and, for this tour opening, Mike Campbell — to celebrate the 50th anniversary of not just an album, but the country-rock movement it started.
 
https://variety.com/2018/music/reviews/byrds-sweetheart-rodeo-50th-anniversary-concert-roger-mcguinn-chris-hillman-1202886554/
 rpdevotee wrote:
Absolutely love this guitaring {#Bananajam}So original

 
I read that Roger McGuinn used a lot of compression on his Rickenbacker 12 string to get that Byrds guitar sound. 
{#Devil_pimp}zesty ! still love the groove
For the record, I would like to propose that flying over Greenland is far trippier than many recreational chemicals. 
 Proclivities wrote:

It is a pretty sloppy recording overall (especially the lead guitar) - probably somewhat deliberate, but that's always been part of its appeal to me.  One of the few tunes of theirs that I can still listen to.

 
The lead guitar is an homage to John Coltrane. Tasty licks.
Absolutely love this guitaring {#Bananajam}So original
The sentiments are all still valid; still the trippiest sound around... Timeless anchor, this; ties me to enlightened moods I live to revel in...
Great track - the Husker Du version of this is pretty amazing as well.
Funny, this song makes me think of Leonard Cohen who I grew to love listening to his LP on Songs of Love of Hate in my Uncle's farmhouse in Norway.

Must be memories of flying over Greenland. 
 kingart wrote:
I'm making an educated guess at the context: I think this reference may be the quip the Beatles (Lennon) made about them being more popular than Jesus Christ. This sparked outrage — until it was pointed out that more Beatle albums were flying from record stores than Bibles from bookshops. Likewise, the title Eight Miles High caused an uproar by seeming to condone drugs, but instead referred to the only-slightly exaggerated altitude of the band's touring airplane. Two instances of words from a band's lips that were misconstrued by bias. The Byrds kind of copied the Fabs.
cactus wrote:

sorry the Byrds copied the Beatles 
  

Uh, yeah, riiiight.  And the Beatles never copied anybody.

 
 
They copied the Byrds. {#Cheesygrin}
I've been reading this of late.  it came out early this year.  Pick it up if you can...It's PHENOMENAL!

Uncut - The Byrds – Ultimate Music Guide
 iloveradio wrote:
I remember when this song was censored because of drug reference. Of course I was in central Illinois at the time which wasn't exactly drug friendly. There are some songs you are required to give a 10, this is one.

 
Yeah but no. The song is about flying to London (eight miles high) and dealing with the British press and fans. I've heard that yes, the song didn't get much airplay when it was first released because people thought it was about getting high...Gene Clark (who wrote much of the song) and David Crosby both now admit that the song was partly influenced by drug use.
I remember when this song was censored because of drug reference. Of course I was in central Illinois at the time which wasn't exactly drug friendly. There are some songs you are required to give a 10, this is one.
Some may be interested in a forthcoming effort from Canadian band Skydiggers, interpreting this and other Gene Clark songs. Produced by Cowboy Junkies' Michael Timmins. Out in May, 8 Miles High available now. https://skydiggers.com/skydiggers-announce-here-without-you-the-songs-of-gene-clark/

And now for the modern version.....

Eight miles high, emitting large amounts of carbon...... 
 
perfect time to play this song while the young folks are at work contributing to my social security and me baking "{#Wink}enriched butter{#Wink}" cookies
Not long after Crosby's 70th birthday, I saw him & Nash in concert.  The overall show was excellent!  One of my favorite moments was right at the start, as Crosby & Nash took the stage with their band, an electric guitar hanging from Crosby's neck, his silver mane glowing in the spotlights.  "Might as well get this one out of the way...." he said, and launched into the opening chords of Eight Miles High.  The band picked up his energy and off they went, soaring through the auditorium.  It may as well have been 1967 again.  A wonderful moment!
Amazing, to think this came out in '66! Totally lit up the music scene, too, with that wild jamming on the 12-string, and killer harmonies!
 OHMish wrote:
The guitar is almost terrible.. ALMOST!

 
It is a pretty sloppy recording overall (especially the lead guitar) - probably somewhat deliberate, but that's always been part of its appeal to me.  One of the few tunes of theirs that I can still listen to.
 Lazarus wrote:
Everybody in my alien space craft loves this elevating song...

 
*ding*  "Going UP"
11!
McGuinn and Crosby shredding....
 

Had to go find out... Like private planes, like London... Hard not to like London. Lived there for a while. Now, I'd be hard pressed to afford Tea or Coffee... Recently listed as Most Expensive... Course, there is more than London... altho that too has changed with their immigration policies. Another subject, another forum, another time.

Really liked the 12 string.... and always the harmonies

I remembered it in '65...but that was when regions released music at different times...

Now it's all timed for the Grammies and the bump that a nomination receives in sales, play, etc.
 kingart wrote:
Had to bump 8 > 9. Simply because. 

 

Funny, I did the exact same thing!{#Cheers}
Quite simply sublime.
Had to bump 8 > 9. Simply because. 
{#Bananajam}The waaaaaay back machine - in high school then!
Everybody in my alien space craft loves this elevating song...
My calculation:               Beautiful melody....+  great lyrics + guitar extraordinaire = 10
seems he was ok on a flying carpet (with a small cup of transcendant tea)      cool old tune
 helgigermany wrote:
Great band, great song!

 
...... what he said
From the AllMusicGuide bio:

the Byrds suffered a major loss right after "Eight Miles High" with the departure of Gene Clark, their primary songwriter and, along with McGuinn, chief lead vocalist. The reason for his resignation, ironically, was fear of flying . . .

Gotta love it.
 bronorb wrote:
Worst guitar solo, EVER.

 

Oops, sorry, just looked back and I said the same thing in 2005.
You know you're getting old when you start repeating yourself. 

 
Worst guitar solo, EVER.
 Some of the best harmony in Rock ever.
I'm making an educated guess at the context: I think this reference may be the quip the Beatles (Lennon) made about them being more popular than Jesus Christ. This sparked outrage -- until it was pointed out that more Beatle albums were flying from record stores than Bibles from bookshops. Likewise, the title Eight Miles High caused an uproar by seeming to condone drugs, but instead referred to the only-slightly exaggerated altitude of the band's touring airplane. Two instances of words from a band's lips that were misconstrued by bias. The Byrds kind of copied the Fabs.
cactus wrote:

sorry the Byrds copied the Beatles 
  

Uh, yeah, riiiight.  And the Beatles never copied anybody.

 



gets a WTF? from me
Great band, great song!
The guitar is almost terrible.. ALMOST!
{#Notworthy}
Kottke does a nice version too.
Man, I was just sitting here with my fellow dudes and dudettes snipping buds and leaves and we all love this song.
 treatment_bound wrote:

Everyone suffering with me in my cube here at work just "lifted off" and are now floating up near the light fixtures...
 

That sounds supernatural!  Everybody in my church loves this elevating song...
 
 cactus wrote:

sorry the Byrds copied the Beatles
 

Uh, yeah, riiiight.  And the Beatles never copied anybody.
First time I've heard this classic on RP. Thanks, Bill!
 (former member) wrote:


Everybody in my hotel room loves this song...

 
 

Everyone suffering with me in my cube here at work just "lifted off" and are now floating up near the light fixtures...
right now.


Everybody in my hotel room loves this song...

 
Wow!  This one ain't never gettin' old!
 cactus wrote:
sorry the Byrds copied the Beatles

 



Now we're cookin'!
 rez wrote:

Yeah, well some people are still listening to Mozart's 40th symphony as well. Music's not like food - it doesn't go off as it ages.
 
A great deal of music "goes off" as it ages - (especially many tunes by The Byrds) - not this tune so much, though.  Anyhow, it doesn't mean that one should not listen to it, but Roger McGuinn is not Mozart.


God, what a great song! Perfect for today! Bluebird, almost-winter skies in Oregon. I'm eight miles high...{#Sunny}
I've seen Roger McGuinn in concert in the last ten years and this period piece is reminiscent of how in some quarters the light continues,  yet, on my playlist it's the Roxy Music version that still receves extended plays.
 Carl wrote:
This has aged well for me. {#Yes}
 
Agreed.

The Byrds influenced the Beatles.   That is a claim to fame.

 

I love watching snow-covered mountain ranges from airplanes.  ;-)


12 string psychedilia, and perfect harmonies...timeless.
This has aged well for me. {#Yes}
 sirdroseph wrote:


What a maroon!{#Lol}
 



 jimbaca wrote:
Psychedelia at it's absolute finest!
 

One of the first.
Eight Miles High rates a 9 from me. {#Music}
 rascal420 wrote:
Husker Du did a great version of this
 
Saw them do it in LA with Stipe singing.



This song is soooo good for the ears...

 
Psychedelia at it's absolute finest!
Anybody seem my grinder?


Here is the correct cover art and it came out in '66 first as a single and then included on this '66 LP, not in '80 {#Tongue-out}

Still pure delight.
 Papernapkin wrote:
People STILL listening to this? Jeez, move on.
 

What a maroon!{#Lol}
Yea, this is a good'n!{#Bananajam}
It gives me goose bumps just hearing this.  Brings back memories of heading into the city to the Avalon and living the weekend. . . .
 WonderLizard wrote:
I'm struck by how busy the drumming is...
 

At the time there was a lot of controversy over drummer Michael Clarke's commitment and chops.  As a result, he was in and out of the Byrds several different times.

I was listening to one of McGuinn's podcasts this weekend and thinking "I need to listen to some Byrds soon . . ."

Thanks, RP! All I have is vinyl, time to buy some CDs.


This song makes me feel so young...


God, I love them.
 DaveInVA wrote:
RP definately needs to play more Byrds songs...
 
I second that motion!

RP definately needs to play more Byrds songs...
Papernapkin wrote:
People STILL listening to this? Jeez, move on.

Yeah, well some people are still listening to Mozart's 40th symphony as well. Music's not like food - it doesn't go off as it ages.


People STILL listening to this? Jeez, move on.

Crank it up, light one up and maybe piss off the neighbors.


"Side walk scenes and black limousines, some living, some standing alone"

Good stuff, boys! {#Clap}
 sharkartist wrote:
It's McGuinn.
Now, how many of you can resist playing the air cymbal during the "nowhere is there warmth to be found" passage?
 
  Sorry, I was too busy playing air guitar!


Great tune to follow Johnny Cash's "Ghost Riders in the Sky".  Both songs are iconic!  The Byrds drew me into the rock culture of the 60's. 


Classic!  One of the best...


Hey Bill, how high up were those Ghost Riders in the Sky? ;^P
Love this song.  But if it reminds me of anything, it is flying over Greenland.{#Daisy}
RedGuitar wrote:
I think he got the solo from John Coltrane or was at least influenced by him. Perhaps he didn't play it quite right - but who can copy Coltrane that well?
Yes, from what I have read this particular song (intro and that solo in particular) is thought to be one of the first examples of rock music being influenced by the free jazz movement of the time. Coltrane was probably most recognized for the sound when this song was written. I believe this has since been directly connected to his music. I happen to love it.
Still sounds as good today. Never tire of hearing this!
I'm struck by how busy the drumming is...
LSD was not that bad, look that guitar!
1wolfy wrote:
I really like the version by Roxy music too
Must look that one up. Leo Kottke did a fine cover too.
great song! Leo Kottke also does a great copy of this...
what a fine 10 this one is! I love this tune
I really like the version by Roxy music too
Visions of SoCal. The rocks at La Jolla ... Epiphany
This is and always has been awesome.
After JC Ghost Riders, this is turned up to 11. Very cool job Bill. I'm laughin' this is such a cool transition.
This one ALWAYS means pull it out, load it up, and put the spark to it, man! Go, Bill! You're on a wicked roll!