The Byrds

Goin' Back

Composed by Carole King / Gerry Goffin

Song Review by

While it was on their second album of 1968, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, that the Byrds dove headfirst into the sound and feeling of classic country music, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, released earlier the same year, made it clear that the Nashville sound had captured the band's ear, and "Goin' Back," the album's second track, was an unlikely but potent example of the band's growing enthusiasm for C&W. Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, "Goin' Back" marked a growing intelligence and sophistication from one of the best (and best known) songwriting teams of the Brill Building era, as they sang of "goin' back to the things I learned so well in my youth," shucking off the cynicism of adulthood to embrace the open mind and open heart of childhood. The Byrds seemed to understand that the song's wistful longing for the simplicity of the past suggested the attitude of many classic country tunes, and the song's graceful, deceptively simple melody line lent itself to a countrified approach. Consequently, the Byrds' arrangement strikes a middle ground between country and pop, with the twinkling keyboards and polished harmonies standing beside an understated pedal steel guitar and the folkie chime of Roger McGuinn's 12-string guitar solos. If "Goin' Back" wasn't exactly a country song in the Byrds' hands, it certainly proved the band had been paying attention to some of the more progressive Nashville artists of the day, and makes clear that Sweetheart of the Rodeo wasn't entirely Gram Parsons' doing. A number of other artists also recorded notable versions of "Goin' Back"; Dusty Springfield's lovely version of the tune followed up her first international hit, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," Nils Lofgrin used the song to close out his first solo album, and noted Byrds fan Richard Thompson cut the song as a B-side for his single "Easy There, Steady Now."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Notorious Byrd Brothers 1968 Sony Music Distribution
The Byrds 1973 Flashback Records / SOI
No Image 1973 CBS Records
No Image 1982 CBS Records
20 Essential Tracks from the Boxed Set: 1965-1990 1991 BMG / Sony Music Entertainment
Collection [Castle] 1992 Castle Music Ltd.
Definitive Collection 1995 Sony/Columbia 3:28
Expanded Edition Album Sampler, Vol. 2 1997 Columbia 3:55
Full Flyte (1965-1970) 1998 Raven 3:27
Ultimate Byrds 1998 Legacy / Columbia/Legacy 3:27
No Image 2002 Timeless 3:26
The Essential Byrds 2003 Columbia / Legacy 3:27
No Image 2006 BMG Special Products / Custom 3:27
Very Best of the Byrds [2006] 2006 Sony Music Distribution
There Is a Season 2006 Legacy / Columbia/Legacy / Sony BMG 3:28
Collection [BMG/Camden] 2007 Sony Music Distribution 3:27
Original Album Classics [2008] 2008 Columbia 3:25
The Complete Columbia Albums Collection 2011 Columbia / Legacy / Sony Music / Sony Music Entertainment 3:25
Something Good: From the Goffin & King Songbook 2012
Various Artists
Ace / Ace UK 3:23
Original Album Classics 2013 Legacy 3:25
The  60s: The Byrds 2014 BMG / Sony Music Entertainment 3:28
Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, November 2, 1968 2014 Keyhole Records
Turn! Turn! Turn! The Byrds: Ultimate Byrds Collection 2015 Sony Music
Fun in Frisco 2016 Zip City 4:25
The Boston Tea Party 2016 Iconography 3:47
Eight Miles High: The Best Of The Byrds Camden / Camden International 3:27
No Image Sony Music Distribution 3:57
blue highlight denotes editor's pick