Roger McGuinn: 1st New Rock Album in 14 Years

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The erstwhile leader of The Byrds, Roger McGuinn, has released Sweet Memories, which he describes as his first rock album since 2004. McGuinn’s wife, Camilla, announced the availability of the new release on her Twitter page.

McGuinn has self-released a series of acoustic recordings in a series titled Folk Den over the years.

Sweet Memories consists of 12 new recordings, including remakes of the Byrds’ first two smash singles, “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” as well as a newly recorded “So You Want to Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star” and an update on “Chestnut Mare,” titled “Chestnut Mare Christmas” here.

Related: McGuinn and fellow Byrds founder Chris Hillman are touring to celebrate the band’s Sweetheart of the Rodeo album

Sweetheart Of The Rodeo Tour Dates (Tickets for several dates are available here and here or via an individual venue’s box office. Several of the original dates are already sold-out but may be available on StubHub)

Sep 09 – Kansas City, MO – Folly Theater
Sep 12 – Springfield, MO – Gillioz Theatre
Sep 17 – Albany, NY – Hart Theater @ The Egg
Sep 18 – Albany, NY – Hart Theater @ The Egg
Sep 20 – Hopewell, VA – Beacon Theatre
Sep 24 – New York, NY – The Town Hall
Sep 26 – Boston, MA – Emerson Colonial Theatre
Oct 03 – Akron, OH – Akron Civic
Oct 08 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
Oct 10 – Roanoke, VA – Jefferson Center
Oct 15 – Durham, NC – Durham PAC
Oct 21 – Atlanta, GA – Byers Theatre

The album announcement notes: “Sweet Memories is the first studio rock CD that Roger McGuinn has recorded since 2004. It is the CD fans have been asking for at Roger’s concerts. They are continually asking for a studio version of the Byrds songs. So, Roger re-recorded three Byrds hits from scratch and they were so artistically performed that everyone asks, ‘Did you use samples?’ The answer is no! He played every instrument and sang every vocal including harmonies on ‘Turn, Turn, Turn,’ ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and ‘ So You Want To Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star.’ There are also nine other songs never recorded before.

Sweet Memories is a trip down memory lane for Roger McGuinn. It all begins when you open the package and see a letter he wrote to his family in 1965 on the back of a publicity photo of his new group, the Byrds. He explains to his parents that their first song was written by Bob Dylan of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. The publicity photo Roger wrote on the back of is included in the collage of photos from Roger’s past on the opposite panel of the CD package. Get out your magnifying glass and see if you can identify the friends from a span of 60 years.

“There are 8 other songs that Roger and Camilla have written over the years. This CD seemed the perfect time to record them.

“‘Chestnut Mare Christmas’ – A continuation of the “Chestnut Mare” story. They were reluctant to write a sequel to that classic but the story continues with a tender message and Marty Stuart playing a galloping guitar!

“‘Grapes of Wrath’- The inspiration for this song is the black and white 1940 Henry Fonda movie which the McGuinns enjoy watching on a rainy day.

“‘Sweet Memories’- Written in the early 1980s in Morro Bay, California. The late New York DJ, Pete Fornatale, was always encouraging Roger record it. The song was a favorite of Pete’s. To the McGuinns it wasn’t finished yet. There were still the European trips to write about and the wonderful train rides. Unfortunately, Pete passed on before it was recorded. When thinking about the title for this CD, that song seemed so appropriate because of all the memories on this disc.

“‘Catching Rainbows’ took years to write and just as long to record. It didn’t fall into place until the beginning of this CD. It too is a song about the McGuinn adventures. The rainbow photo on the back of the CD with the song list was taken by Camilla on an ocean voyage.

“It was ‘5:18’ in the afternoon when the McGuinns were sitting on their garden porch in Morro Bay, California, watching a storm rolling onto the California coast. At that time, they never dreamed of leaving California, but they did move a few years later.

“‘The Tears’ was written by Camilla on an airplane returning home to California after a long tour. She was thinking about Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, ‘The Bells.’ With a hotel scratch pad and pen, words were scribbled about all the tears many have shed in the privacy of a closet.

“Roger loves the being on the ocean. ‘At The Edge of the Water’ was written by him during the morning dawn while sitting on a ship’s balcony with his guitar.

“‘Light Up The Darkness’ was written in the McGuinn’s small rented condo in Century City within a year of their marriage. It was the beginning of a long beautiful relationship in life and work.

“‘Friday’ – Roger recorded the song ‘Friday’ because he and Camilla laughed so hard watching the spoof video on YouTube they couldn’t stay in their chairs. They even had to research the song to make sure it wasn’t written by Bob Dylan. Roger emailed the creator of the video, Nate Herman, and told him how much enjoyed his work and was thinking of recording the song himself. Nate replied, ‘Life imitating art imitating life.’”

Watch McGuinn play “Turn! Turn! Turn!” solo


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