Listen To The Byrds’ Cover Of “Hey Joe” – Better Than Hendrix’s?
via Magnetic Vision / YouTube
It is generally agreed that Jimi Hendrix’s version of “Hey Joe” is the best recording of the song, making it one of the most well-known songs in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. But when a force under the guise of The Byrds also made a version out of it, it could spark a heated debate on whose version that everyone would agree was the greatest.
The song “Hey Joe,” which was a rock classic in the 1960s and had widespread popularity, has been covered by a wide variety of musicians throughout the years. The song was so pervasive that around the same decade, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention published a parody titled “Flower Punk.” The latter was a scathing hit at the hippie lifestyle that Zappa made no secret about disliking.
In spite of the fact that Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “Hey Joe” is universally acknowledged to be the superior one, “Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go)” as performed by The Byrds is said to be worthy of receiving a greater degree of public notice. The cover is a pacier approach than Hendrix’s version, and it is colored by the jangly 12-string licks that Roger McGuinn contributes to the track. It was released on their classic album Fifth Dimension in 1966. A strong example of psychedelic music, this track is made all the more interesting by the drummer Michael Clarke’s unrelenting usage of the cowbell as the track’s primary rhythmic instrument.
In the rendition performed by The Byrds, David Crosby was the one in charge of the vocals. In the liner notes for the album Fifth Dimension, McGuinn claims that Crosby, who came from a folk music background, wanted to record the song as early as 1964, but the rest of the band did not grant his request.
“The reason Crosby did lead on ‘Hey Joe’ was because it was his song,” McGuinn explained. “He didn’t write it but he was responsible for finding it. He’d wanted to do it for years but we would never let him.”
Listen to The Byrds and Jimi Hendrix’s versions of “Hey Joe” below, and judge for it yourself.