Full Circle Song
|"Full Circle Song"|
|Song by Gene Clark|
|from the album Roadmaster|
|Recorded||April 17, April 18, April 24, 1972, Wally Heider Studios, Los Angeles|
|Genre||Rock, country rock|
1973 German picture sleeve.
|Single by The Byrds|
|from the album Byrds|
|B-side||"Long Live the King"|
|Released||April 11, 1973|
|Recorded||October 16 — November 15, 1972, Wally Heider Studios, Los Angeles|
|Genre||Rock, country rock|
|The Byrds singles chronology|
"Full Circle Song" (a.k.a. "Full Circle") is a song written by Gene Clark that utilizes an allegorical wheel of fortune motif to comment on the unpredictable nature of fame and fortune. The song originally appeared in January 1973 on Clark's Roadmaster album, which was initially released exclusively in the Netherlands. A re-recorded version of "Full Circle Song", with the shortened title of "Full Circle", was included on the Byrds' 1973 reunion album, Byrds.
According to author John Einarson, "Full Circle Song" was written by Clark in early 1972. Critic Matthew Greenwald has commented that, although it's hard not to believe that the song is an autobiographical commentary on Clark's own critically lauded, but financially unrewarding solo career, Clark himself always denied that this had been his intention.
It was first recorded in April 1972 at Wally Heider Studios, Los Angeles, as part of the recording sessions for Clark's second solo album for A&M Records. For these sessions, Clark and record producer Chris Hinshaw assembled a top flight crew of L.A. studio musicians, including Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Clarence White, Byron Berline, and Spooner Oldham, but progress on the proposed album was slow. The recording sessions were eventually abandoned, due to A&M's frustration at the lack of progress, and consequently the album was shelved.
Some months later, Gene's friend and ex-manager of the Byrds, Jim Dickson, approached Dave Hubert, the head of A&M's foreign markets division, regarding a possible European release for the eight tracks completed during the abandoned sessions. Despite protests from some A&M executives, these tracks were compiled with three other previously unreleased Clark songs and issued in the Netherlands as the Roadmaster album.
The Byrds version
In late 1972, prior to the Dutch release of Roadmaster, Clark decided to re-record "Full Circle Song" for inclusion on the Byrds' reunion album, since, at that time, the song was gathering dust in the A&M tape vaults. During the reunion recording sessions, the song was renamed "Full Circle" and, for a time, it provided the album's working title. Ultimately, the album would be released under the eponymous title Byrds, as Clark was uncomfortable with his song being used as the title track in case the public mistakenly assumed that it had been written specifically for the reunion. Clark confirmed that this was not the case during a 1979 interview with the Byrds' biographer, Johnny Rogan: "I'd already recorded that song a couple of years earlier [sic] and it wasn't really written about anything specific. It was just an idea I had."
The Byrds' recording of the song is similar in feel to the Roadmaster version, but critics have commented on the addition of a soaring David Crosby harmony vocal and some striking mandolin playing from the Byrds' bass player, Chris Hillman.
Following the release of the reunion album, "Full Circle" was issued as a single on April 11, 1973 (b/w "Long Live the King"), but it missed the Billboard Hot 100, bubbling under at number 109, and failed to enter the UK Singles Chart altogether. Oddly, the song was re-released as a single in the UK some two-and-a-half years later on August 8, 1975, but again, it failed to chart.
The song has been covered by a number of artists, including Dan Fogelberg, on his 2003 album, Full Circle, and George Elliott, on his Men Don't Smoke album. Joe Algeri has also covered it on his The Stockholm Years album and on the various artists tribute album, Full Circle: A Tribute to Gene Clark. In addition, "Full Circle" was recorded by Walter Clevenger for the 2007 Byrds' tribute album, Timeless Flyte: A Tribute to the Byrds — Full Circle.
- Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 349. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
- Einarson, John. (2005). Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of the Byrds' Gene Clark. Backbeat Books. pp. 175–177. ISBN 0-87930-793-5.
- Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 560. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
- Einarson, John. (2005). Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of the Byrds' Gene Clark. Backbeat Books. pp. 177–180. ISBN 0-87930-793-5.
- Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 542–547. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
- "Full Circle Song review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-10-14.
- Ballard, Barry. (1986). Roadmaster (1986 CD liner notes).
- Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. p. 306. ISBN 1-906002-15-0.
- "Byrds". ByrdWatcher: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 2009-05-25. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
- Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. p. 318. ISBN 1-906002-15-0.
- Brown, Tony. (2000). The Complete Book of the British Charts. Omnibus Press. p. 130. ISBN 0-7119-7670-8.
- "Dan Fogelberg - Full Circle album review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
- "George Elliott - Men Don't Smoke album review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-01-05.
- "The Stockholm Years review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
- "Full Circle: A Tribute to Gene Clark review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
- "Timeless Flyte: A Tribute to The Byrds review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-25.