The Byrd Who Flew Alone: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Gene Clark (DVD Review)
For a time, The Byrds were as big as Dylan and The Beatles. And Gene Clark, singer-songwriter and founding member, was central to their sound. He helped create folk rock, and after leaving The Byrds in 1966, he went on to record a number of astoundingly under-appreciated solo albums. He’s up there with Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt in the neglected-genius category. This documentary tells of Clark’s poor Missouri upbringing, his early talent, his recruitment by the New Christy Minstrels, his arrival in LA and the creation of The Byrds. Clark drank a lot and pissed people off, particularly record company execs. But that doesn’t explain how his records could have been so overlooked. Clark didn’t much care for success or fame, though he liked the royalty checks. He headed off into the country for a time, raising kids and writing songs. Eventually, his life fell apart, even though he reunited with core Byrds members in different projects. More about the making of Clark’s first three solo albums and more of his brooding, poetic songs themselves would have been welcome, but this documentary is a decent introduction to Clark’s work. Clark cultists may still find scraps of his career to investigate further, like Roadmaster, a collection of outtakes from the early ‘70s.