Lady Friend

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"Lady Friend"
1967 German picture sleeve.
Single by The Byrds
B-side "Old John Robertson" (US)
"Don't Make Waves" (UK)
Released July 13, 1967
Format 7" single
Recorded April 26, June 14, June 21, 1967
Studio Columbia Studios, Hollywood, CA
Genre Rock, pop
Length 2:30
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) David Crosby
Producer(s) Gary Usher
The Byrds singles chronology
"Have You Seen Her Face"
"Lady Friend"
"Goin' Back"
"Have You Seen Her Face"
"Lady Friend"
"Goin' Back"

"Lady Friend" is a song by the American rock band The Byrds, written by David Crosby and released as a single on July 13, 1967.[1][2] The single reached number 82 on the Billboard Hot 100 but failed to chart in the United Kingdom.[3][4] In America and Europe, the B-side of "Lady Friend" was the Chris Hillman song "Old John Robertson", but in the UK, the single's B-side was changed to "Don't Make Waves", a song written by Roger McGuinn and Hillman.[2] The version of "Old John Robertson" found on the B-side of "Lady Friend" is a substantially different mix from the version that would later appear on The Notorious Byrd Brothers album.[5][6] "Lady Friend" is notable for being the only song penned solely by David Crosby to appear on the A-side of a Byrds' single.[7]

Recording and release[edit]

The song was written by Crosby in early 1967 at his home in Beverly Glen in Los Angeles.[7] A demo of the song dating from this period, featuring Crosby accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, was included in the KPFA program The Crosby Connection, during the radio station's February 3, 2001 Grateful Dead marathon.[8] The Byrds' recording of the song has a quick tempo and features chiming guitars, complex vocal harmonies, and brass, resulting in the fastest and rockiest single the Byrds had released up to that point.[5][7] Crosby closely oversaw the protracted recording of the song, much to McGuinn and Hillman's consternation.[9][10] Tensions in the band increased in the late stages of production when Crosby replaced his bandmates' backing vocals with his own vocal overdubs.[10]

Crosby was hopeful that "Lady Friend" would return the Byrds to the upper reaches of the chart, but the record received insufficient airplay and media exposure, despite the band performing it on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and, ultimately, it failed commercially.[3][7] Crosby was bitterly disappointed by the single's lack of success and cited producer Gary Usher's mixing of the song as a contributing factor, stating in a contemporary interview with disc jockey B. Mitchel Reed, "The final mix of 'Lady Friend' sounds like mush."[7] The Byrds performed the song during their appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival and a recording of this performance can be found on the 1992 The Monterey International Pop Festival CD box set.[11] The song was omitted from the Byrds' next album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, partly due to its lack of commercial success as a single and partly due to Crosby having been fired from the band by McGuinn and Hillman midway through the recording of the album.[5][9]

Stereo mixes[edit]

Having initially been mixed in mono for its release as a single in 1967, "Lady Friend" wasn't released in stereo until its inclusion on the 1987 compilation album, Never Before.[12] However, this version of the song also featured the addition of overdubbed drums, played by an unnamed session musician.[13][14] Reaction to the new drumming on the song amongst fans was almost universally negative, with many feeling that the addition of 1980s sounding drums was completely inappropriate and incongruous.[13] Subsequently, this doctored version of the song has not appeared on any other album release.

A new stereo remix of the song, without the 1980s overdubs, was released on The Byrds box set in 1990.[15] The song was also added as a bonus track to the 1996 Columbia/Legacy reissue of the Younger Than Yesterday album.[16] In addition to its appearance on the expanded reissue of Younger Than Yesterday, "Lady Friend" also appears on several Byrds' compilations, including History of The Byrds, The Original Singles: 1967–1969, Volume 2, The Essential Byrds, and There Is a Season.[17]

Cover versions[edit]

"Lady Friend" has been covered by Little John, on their 1969 album, Little John, and by The Flamin' Groovies, on their 1979 album, Jumpin' in the Night.[18] The song was also covered by Static on the 1989 Byrds' tribute album, Time Between – A Tribute to The Byrds.[19] In 2001, The Posies released a version of the song as part of their Nice Cheekbones and a Ph.D EP.[18] In addition, Kenny Howes has also recorded a version of the song as the title track of his 2004 album, Lady Friend.[20]

Bill Plummer and the Cosmic Brotherhood also covered the song on their 1968 self titled album.[21]


  1. ^ "Lady Friend review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  2. ^ a b Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 541–544. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X. 
  3. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel. (2008). Top Pop Singles 1955–2006. Record Research Inc. p. 130. ISBN 0-89820-172-1. 
  4. ^ Brown, Tony. (2000). The Complete Book of the British Charts. Omnibus Press. p. 130. ISBN 0-7119-7670-8. 
  5. ^ a b c "Younger Than Yesterday". ByrdWatcher: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  6. ^ Rogan, Johnny. (1996). Younger Than Yesterday (1996 CD liner notes). 
  7. ^ a b c d e Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 223–224. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X. 
  8. ^ "KPFA Grateful Dead Marathon playlist". The Grateful Dead Hour. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  9. ^ a b Menck, Ric. (2007). The Notorious Byrd Brothers (33​13 series). Continuum Books. pp. 129–130. ISBN 0-8264-1717-5. 
  10. ^ a b Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965–1973). Jawbone Press. p. 134. ISBN 1-906002-15-0. 
  11. ^ "The Monterey International Pop Festival box set review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  12. ^ Hyde, Bob. (1987). Never Before (1987 LP liner notes). 
  13. ^ a b Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 420. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X. 
  14. ^ "Never Before review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  15. ^ "The Byrds box set". ByrdWatcher: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  16. ^ "Younger Than Yesterday (Bonus Tracks) review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  17. ^ "Lady Friend by The Byrds album appearances". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  18. ^ a b "CSN contributions and cover versions". Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  19. ^ "Time Between - A Tribute to The Byrds review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  20. ^ "Lady Friend by Kenny Howes". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  21. ^ "Bill Plummer And The Cosmic Brotherhood -[6]- Lady Friend". YouTube. 2011-12-15. Retrieved 2016-10-01.