Although David Crosby’s contributions to the Byrds had hinted at the depth of his capacity as a singer/songwriter, it would take the calibre of material such as “Guinnevere” to reveal his prowess as a true craftsman. This ballad musically spotlights Crosby’s intricate and highly inventive open chord structures. He possesses an uncanny sense of harmonics, which can be likened to that of Brian Wilson or, perhaps more aptly, jazz icon Thelonious Monk. “Guinnevere” is likewise structurally designed to augment and support the equally complex vocal harmonies from he and Graham Nash.
The name “Guinnevere” itself instantly conjures up romantic images of knights in shining armour and virtuous maidens fair. Lyrically, Crosby weaves those connotations with his own unique minstrel-like qualities -- even incorporating the use of “m’lady” when describing the different muses that influenced his hauntingly beautiful verse.
The acoustic backdrop is sublime, providing ample space for the crystalline vocals to blend with the sparse instrumentation in an organic way. It also allows Crosby to demonstrate his amazing jazz influenced guitar playing. Ironically, the song’s subtle phrasing and sensitivity to contrast is perhaps most evident on the extended and spacey workout that Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew combo gave “Guinnevere” -- available on the Circle In The Round (1979) compilation. An exceedingly perfunctory live performance from Crosby and Nash can be found on the 1971 archival release Another Stoney Evening (1998).