Title: "Eight Miles High"
Artist: The Byrds
Album: Fifth Dimension, 1966
Written By: Gene Clark, Roger McGuinn and David Crosby
In a decade that arguably had the most daring and iconic rock and roll songs, I think that this tune is the greatest single of the 1960's. It is tight, wonderfully written and constructed, and as promised by the title, it truly does soar with an air of mystery. It features still unique 12-String solos from McGuinn (who claims to have been inspired by John Coltrane when playing these dense and frenetic solos) and the best vocal harmonizing in rock (eclipsing even the Beach Boys or the Beatles). There is some dispute regarding songwriting credit. All parties, including Crosby himself, acknowledge that David Crosby contributed very little, just a lyric line or two (Crosby has joked that it was the most profitable phrase he ever wrote: "Rain grey town, known for its sound"). Traditionally, it was viewed as mostly a Gene Clark composition, his last parting gift before he bolted the group, with him writing most of the lyrics and developing the melody of the song. But McGuinn has since claimed that the lyrics were a true collaboration, and that he came up with the melody and music. Clark is unfortunately no longer with us to defend himself.