We've spent a good bit of time this week talking about airplanes—specifically, whether we'll soon be allowed to use our smartphones in-flight. But the grumbling over in-flight gadgets makes us forget how utterly far out it is that man can fly in the first place. Time to trip out with some psychedelic music, man.
The Byrds released this song in 1966, inspired by a flight to England and maybe also some drugs. The combination of flowing, wafting vocals and sinewy 12-string guitar riffs you'd swear were played on a sitar makes for a trademark '60s sound. But it's the song's circular structure, building speed like a jet on the runway, then arcing into lofty flight, then swinging back down to do it all again, that really turns this song into a trip.
Sharp-eared fans will notice this recording differs notably from the version most often heard on classic rock radio stations. This first cut was considered superior by the band, but was refused by Columbia Records because it was recorded in a competing label's studios. The familiar recording that Columbia released still has that hallmark sound, but feels a little sloppier, more haphazard, than this version.
At the end, the song comes back down to earth, and, in the final moments, builds to a chaotic crescendo. It sounds for all the world like the screeching tires of a 727 scrambling to a halt at the end of a landing strip. And just like that, the flight is over. We're back on the ground.