The Byrds

Goin' Back

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 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 3:58
No Image 1973 CBS Records
No Image 1982 CBS Records
20 Essential Tracks from the Boxed Set: 1965-1990 1991 Columbia / Legacy 3:26
Definitive Collection 1995 Columbia 3:28
Full Flyte (1965-1970) 1998 Raven 3:27
Ultimate Byrds 1998 Legacy / Columbia 3:27
The Essential Byrds 2003 Columbia / Legacy 3:27
Something Good: From the Goffin & King Songbook 2012
Various Artists
Ace / Ace UK 3:23
The 60s: The Byrds 2014 BMG / Sony Music Entertainment 3:28
The Broadcast Archive 2017 The Broadcast Archive 3:46
No Image Sony Music Distribution 3:57