The Byrds “5D”: A Hymn to the Universe

I’ve been on a Byrd’s kick recently, and what a fine band they were. The early version of the band featured (below left to right) David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Roger Mcguinn, Michael Clarke and Gene Clark.

"The Byrds in 1965"

"The Byrds in 1965"

One particular track from the early Byrds catalogue is called “5D (Fifth Dimension)” (also the title of their July 1966 album). It often makes the “Best of” compilations, but it is not well known beyond that. It was released as a single in June of 1966 on the heels of the groundbreaking record “Eight Miles High”. I think only a few bands could have gotten away with this very non-commercial sounding song. Only when you have three hit singles in a row can you do this (“Mr Tambourine Man”, “Turn, Turn, Turn” and “Eight Miles”).

The Byrds were experimenting with eastern sounds and mystical topics when 5D was written by Byrd lead vocalist and guitarist Roger McGuinn. It clocks in a mere 2:30(pretty short by today’s standards). McGuinn’s droning voice with a touch of echo begins the song with the music starting one second later. The track has an almost religious feel to it-much like a hymn (Van Dykes Parks plays a churchy organ in the background)…in fact I call it McGuinn’s “Hymn to the Universe”. A testament of the unknown places we find ourselves.

Roger McGuinn in 1967On the stereo mix, if you turn the balance knob over you can also hear a banjo plucking along, giving it a folksy flavour, but it is overpowered on the mono mix version. McGuinn once played banjo for the Chad Mitchell Trio (kinda making it a quartet if you do the math!) It has a cool guitar solo right at the end featuring McGuinn’s trademark 12 string electric Rickenbacker. I don’t know if the Byrd’s ever played this live but other recordings exist from the “5D” song and album sessions. Sundazed records released Another Dimension (on vinyl only) in 2005 with alternate versions and instrumentals of several tracks from the 5D album.

After reading some scientific Wiki info on the meaning of the “fifth” dimension, it basically dumbs down to anything outside of the 3-D and the theoretical fourth dimension.

My favourite lyrics are near the end of the recording

And I opened my heart to the whole universe,

and I found it was loving.

And I saw the great blunder my teachers had made,

scientific delirium madness

This part features the full harmonies of McGuinn, Crosby and Hillman making it a true Byrd’s classic.


YES Unplugged: Jon Anderson in Concert

The Music Hall Toronto, March 29, 2008

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into last Saturday night. I am a big Yes fan and was debating within myself all week “Should I save my 2008 concert budget for the summer Yes concert or take a chance and see a Jon Anderson solo show?” I’m happy to announce that a JA solo show is a unique experience for a Yes fan. The songs were beautifully stripped down to the basics of voice and acoustic guitar. Because the concert started during the “Earth Hour” the first part was lit by a few candles on stage which made it a coffee house atmosphere! Gorgeous songs recreated for a single voice and guitar. Even intricate recordings like “Starship Trooper” were reduced to the core elements (obviously without the “Wurm” section). The real power of the night might not have been JA’s distinct voice (which is in excellent shape for for a man just entering his 6th deacde) but the songs themselves. Simple chord strumming with pure joy and not missing any of Steve Howes or Rick Wakeman’s intricate solos or Squires bass lines. The man comes across as a real gentleman and has a great stage precence.

Photo by wayne
Since I originally posted this article on…the Yes 2008 Summer Tour has been cancelled due to Jon Anderson’s sudden respiratory illness. I hope he will have a speedy recovery and be able to perform again solo or with Yes.

A Ti-Cat Has Snuck Into the Argo Dome

Sports rivalries are what makes sports fun. About one quarter into last nights CFL Toronto Argo game against the dreaded Hamilton Tigercats came in two, well, Hamilton Tigercats! Fans that is. Serious Tigercat fans. I have to admit my shock and admiration for their loud costumes and ferocious dedication among the enemy Argo crowd. Not to mention their unwavering chanting GO CATS GO!!! GO CATS GO!!! GO CATS GO!!! Most Argos fans ignored them save a season ticket holder seated in front of me who occasionally glanced at them with a mocking smile and politely shouted “Oh be Quiet!!!!” I gotta say, sometimes those Ti-Cat fans were more fun to watch than the game itself.

I confess, I’m not much of a Football fan. I do admire the game, but still haven’t bothered to figure out how it all happens. Long ago on the distant 1980’s, I went to two NFL games (one in Detroit and one in Buffalo) but only because my friends were such huge NFL fans and I was just tagging along. Even as my interest in pro-sports grew, I had never bothered to see my hometown Argos (even during the peak Flutie years) until now and only because I had free tickets. My friend and I brought our sons and it was their first CFL game as well, so that made the night memorable.

The former Skydome has been blasted by Toronto Sports media for the last decade as being a relic from 1980’s excess. Talk of a more intimate venue for the Argos have been on going but so far no concrete plans have emerged. But I can’t see demolishing the Roger’s Centre for the low volume Argo’s crowd or the struggling Blue Jays fan base. In a city like Toronto, there will always be a need for a massive Coliseum. C’mon, it’s not even 20 years old! Give Skydome…uh Roger’s Centre another chance. As we pondered the twisted staircase that reaches the top of the closed dome, we were sure we spotted a technician up there watching the game from birds eye view.

The game was close but Toronto lost to Hamilton. That was my first Argos game. The hot dogs and ice cream were good…and so were the Ti-Cats!

My Neighbourhood Cat

I call him/her “Caty”. I dont even know if she’s a girl or he’s a boy. She/he has hung around our neighbourhood ever since we moved here. He/she seems the typical cat. She/he likes to laze around between two houses at certain times. He/she seems nice but wont ever let me pat her/him. Anyway, everyone needs a neighbourhood cat.




My Photo Journey Thus Far

Yashica FX-2

I have been an avid amateur photographer since the 1980’s. I first picked up an old 110 camera that my mother had and started my visual journey. Not long after in 1986, I picked up a used Yashica FX-2 for around $100 bucks. I was excited about the 35mm format and it’s superior quality over the 110! Soon I was taking my camera everywhere shooting anything I viewed as photogenic. I enjoyed capturing friends, family and still scenes (preferable because they didn’t move).

I remember someone commenting on one of the first photo’s I took with my Yashica of a glass window cracked and shattered and they said it looked very “artistic”. Comments from friends that my pictures were “really good” always kept me going even though the personal pleasure of “capturing time” has always been the main drive.

In 1987, I studied black and white printing at George Brown College and really loved the prints we made even though the chemicals smelled and we wasted a lot of materials in the process but we had a lot of fun. In fact, I still have most of my prints from those days.

In 1994 I picked up a Minolta X370 because of its light weight body. (I have a similar problem with guitars, many of them [mainly electric] are very heavy and can make your shoulder sore after a good while). That camera had been my main body until I got my first digital camera.

About the mid 1990’s I was asked by several people to be the Official Photographer at ther wedding. This was when I was showing off my black and white prints and impressed so many people that they wanted the same treatment for their wedding. I took a basic rate of pay since I did not want to mis-represent myself as a pro-wedding photoman (and in case I screwed up the whole thing). I ended up getting another camera body Yashica FX-3 so one was loaded with colour and the other with B&W film. After several weddings over the span of five years, I found the work repetitive and exhausting being a lone shooter and my equipment was substandard. Even though everyone seemed to like my work, I was not satisfied with the results and decided unless it was a special favour, that I would not do another wedding until I had proper equipment and a dedicated assistant.

As a music lover, I often found myself shooting concerts and it was great to get a souvenir of some memorable shows. One show I regret not getting my camera in was for the Staple Singers in 1995. We got so close to Pops Staples rocking on his Telecaster that they would have been exellent closeup shots…and only a few years later he passed away.

I still havent purchased a really good digital camera yet. My sister in-law gave me her Sony 3.2 MP camera in 2004 but it doesn’t have a decent zoom feature. In 2007 I picked up a little Pentax Optio E10 with 6MP quality. I have been having fun with my little Optio but it lacks a fast shutter so you have to hold it so still in low light and the flash, well it’s pretty weak. Despite all these weaknesses, I have been taking a lot more pictures since one doesn’t have to worry about cost of film anymore…I also like the colour resolution in digital pictures and the ease of editing on the computer.

So the journey continues…

P.S. I will be featuring some of my pictures and stories about them in future blog entries.

Hi there!

I am just testing my blog. Post number one.