Though Gene Clark first made his mark as an original member of The Byrds, where he penned such classic folk-rock songs as “Feel a Whole Lot Better,” he left behind as rich a legacy as a solo artist as he did with The Byrds. Clark’s tenure as a Byrd wasn’t a long one; though the group rose to prominence with its 1965 Columbia debut Mr. Tambourine Man, Clark left the band in early 1966 amid interpersonal strife and a dislike of touring. He re-emerged quickly on a 1967 Columbia set with The Gosdin Brothers, and followed that LP up as one-half of Dillard and Clark for two albums with Doug Dillard in 1968 and 1969. It wasn’t until 1971, though, that Gene Clark made his proper solo debut with White Light on the A&M label. Now, Omnivore Recordings is readying a release that will fill in the gap between the final Dillard and Clark record and White Light. Here Tonight: The White Light Demos, due on March 26, traces the development of the compositions that were released on White Light in August 1971.
By early 1970, Gene Clark had left the bustle of Los Angeles for the wide open spaces of Little River, Calif., near Mendocino, with his girlfriend and soon to be wife, Carlie McCummings, in tow. Clark, a true pioneer of the folk-rock genre, had been gravitating in a more roots-based direction (as had his old band The Byrds) and swore off the electric guitar as he began to compose his latest set of songs. “There was no deadline,” says McCummings. “He wasn’t under any pressure. And as a result, the songs just flowed out of him. The lyrics were so pure. They don’t come out of any manufactured experience.”
Of the twelve demo tracks on the new release, six (“White Light,” “For A Spanish Guitar,” “Where My Love Lies Asleep,” “The Virgin” “Because Of You,” and “With Tomorrow”) appeared in final form on White Light. Two (“Opening Day” and “Winter”) appeared in final form as bonus tracks on A&M’s 2002 reissue of the album. One track (“Here Tonight”) is an alternate version of a song that appeared on the Flying Burrito Brothers compilation Close Up The Honky Tonks. The remaining trio of songs (“For No One,” “Please Mr. Freud” and “Jimmy Christ”) have never been issued previously in any form. Liner notes are by John Einarson, author of the 2005 Clark biography Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of Gene Clark.
There’s more on Gene Clark, including the track listing for The White Light Demos and a pre-order link, after the jump!
Gene Clark’s subsequent career had many ups and downs. Sessions for a second A&M album were hardly smooth, and tracks were cobbled together to create the 1973 album Roadmaster, which also featured a couple of songs with the reunited Byrds. Clark joined Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke for 1973’s Asylum release Byrds, but critics felt that the reformed group had hardly taken flight with the LP. Still, Clark remained at David Geffen’s Asylum label and produced what many consider to be his masterwork, the sprawling pop-rock-folk-soul opus No Other in 1974. In the years to come, he reunited again with Byrds members as McGuinn, Clark and Hillman; recorded a well-received album from RSO (Two Sides to Every Story, subject of a long-aborning reissue from High Moon Records); and continued to enter the studio sporadically throughout the 1980s. Though he died in 1991 of a heart attack at the young age of 46, Gene Clark lived long enough to put aside differences with his fellow Byrds and see himself inducted with the group into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just months before he died.
Here Tonight: The White Light Demos is due in stores from Omnivore Recordings on March 26. You can order directly from Omnivore at the link below; an Amazon pre-order link is not yet active.
Gene Clark, Here Tonight: The White Light Demos (Omnivore Recordings, 2013)
- White Light
- Here Tonight
- For No One
- For a Spanish Guitar
- Please Mr. Freud
- Jimmy Christ
- Where My Love Lies Asleep
- The Virgin
- Opening Day
- Winter In
- Because of You
- With Tomorrow