Songcraft: Spotlight on Songwriters

Ep. 199 - ROGER McGUINN of The Byrds ("Mr. Spaceman")

Episode Summary

We're joined by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Roger McGuinn whose jangling 12-string electric guitar helped propel The Byrds' singles "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" to the top of the charts. He wrote many of the best classics, including “Eight Miles High,” “5D,” “Mr. Spaceman,” “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man,” “Ballad of Easy Rider,” “Chestnut Mare,” and more before launching a long and varied solo career.

Episode Notes

We pay tribute to Songcraft friend and legendary songwriter Lamont Dozier, who passed away recently at the age of 81. In happier news, we discuss Paul's recent nomination for a GMA Dove Award for Songwriter of the year before diving into the Ringo Starr Instagram foot controversy. 

PART TWO (14:39):
We make an important announcement about the future of Songcraft, reveal the winner of our Dave Alvin book giveaway, and share all the details on the brand new Byrds coffee table book. 

PART THREE (22:13):
Our in-depth interview with Roger McGuinn


Our guest on this episode of Songcraft is Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Roger McGuinn. Best known for his work with The Byrds, Roger’s distinctive 12-string electric guitar style helped propel the singles “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” to the top of the charts. As a songwriter, Roger wrote or co-wrote many of the band’s classics, including “Eight Miles High,” “5D,” “Mr. Spaceman,” “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man,” “Ballad of Easy Rider,” “Chestnut Mare,” and others. He launched a solo career in the 1970s, releasing albums that explored new musical territory, and touring as part of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue. 

By the end of the decade, Roger had reunited with former Byrds bandmates Chris Hillman and Gene Clark as a trio known as McGuinn, Clark & Hillman, which yielded the McGuinn-penned Top 40 single “Don’t You Write Her Off.” His 1991 comeback album, Back from Rio, included the Billboard Mainstream Rock hits “King of the Hill” and “Someone to Love,” and featured songs co-written with Tom Petty, Dave Stewart, Jeff Lynne, Mike Campbell, and McGuinn’s wife Camilla, who has since become his primary songwriting partner. 

A lifelong folk music enthusiast, McGuinn has recorded hundreds of songs as part of his online Folk Den project. A compilation album, Treasures from the Folk Den, earned Roger his third Grammy nomination. Most recently, the three surviving founding members of The Byrds—McGuinn, Hillman, and David Crosby—have put together an oversized 400-page coffee table book of photographs and oral history called The Byrds: 1964-1967, which is available for order in both standard and limited-edition autographed versions at