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Ballad of Easy Rider is the eighth album from the influential folk rock group The Byrds, released in October of 1969 on Columbia Records, catalogue item CS 9942 in stereo. It peaked at #36 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums during a chart stay of seventeen weeks, a substantial improvement over its predecessor, but not in the United Kingdom where it only made it to #41. A single released ahead of the album, "Ballad of Easy Rider," peaked at #65 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is the second album featuring the new line-up of Roger McGuinn, Clarence White, Gene Parsons and John York.
Bob Dylan had been asked by the producers of Easy Rider to compose a theme song for their film; but, apparently disapproving of the ending, he merely wrote out a couplet on a cocktail napkin and had it sent to Roger McGuinn with the instructions to flesh it out.
The album's programme consists mostly of covers. The group's earlier days are harkened back to in a version of Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," which the original quintet configuration first recorded in 1965. Every member of the band penned an original: White contributed a loud, deliberately-paced, harmony-laden arrangement of a Baptist hymn, "Oil In My Lamp;" York offered "Fido," making this the second Byrds album in a row with a paean to a canine friend; and Parsons's "Gunga Din" would become something of a signature song. McGuinn also arranged and sang a highly influential version of "Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)".
Terry Melcher, producer of The Byrds' first two albums in 1965, returned to the dials to produce Ballad of Easy Rider, beginning an association that would last even longer than their first one - three albums up until Byrdmaniax in 1971. It revived The Byrds' commercial fortunes, giving them their first U.S. Top 40 album in two years. Two singles were released - the abovementioned title track and "Jesus Is Just Alright," which topped out at #97 in the US. The latter received some airplay, and went on to inspire a hit version by the Doobie Brothers. "Jesus Is Just Alright" was covered once more in 1992 by dc talk.
01."Ballad of Easy Rider" (Bob Dylan/Roger McGuinn) – 2:00
02."Fido" (John York) – 2:40
03."Oil in My Lamp" (Gene Parsons/Clarence White) – 3:13
04."Tulsa County" (Pamela Polland) – 2:49
05."Jack Tarr the Sailor" (trad. arr. Roger McGuinn) – 3:31
06."Jesus Is Just Alright" (Arthur Reynolds) – 2:10
07."It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (Bob Dylan) – 4:53
08."There Must Be Someone (I Can Turn To)" (Vern Gosdin/C. Gosdin/Rex Gosdin) – 3:29
09."Gunga Din" (Gene Parsons) – 3:03
10."Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)" (Woody Guthrie/Martin Hoffman) – 3:50
11."Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins" (Zeke Manners/S. Seely) – 1:41
12."Way Beyond the Sun" (trad. arr. McGuinn) – 2:56
13."Mae Jean Goes to Hollywood" (Jackson Browne) – 2:44
14."Oil in My Lamp" (Gene Parsons/Clarence White) (alternate version) – 2:02
15."Tulsa County" (Pamela Polland) (alternate version) – 3:39
16."Fiddler a Dram (Moog Experiment)" (trad. arr. McGuinn) – 3:10
17."Ballad of Easy Rider" (Bob Dylan/Roger McGuinn) (long version) – 2:26
18."Build It Up" (Clarence White/Gene Parsons) (instrumental) – 2:35