Not much remembered nowadays, “Mr. Spaceman” is a song by The Byrds and was the third track on their 1966 album, Fifth Dimension.
It was released as the third single from the album, reaching number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100, but failing to chart in the United Kingdom. Upon its release as a single, the music press coined the term “space-rock” to describe it, although since then, this term has come to refer to a genre of rock music originating from 1970s progressive and psychedelic music.
Written in early 1966 by Byrds member Jim McGuinn, the song was along with “5D (Fifth Dimension)” one of two science fiction-themed songs on the album.
“Mr. Spaceman” by The Byrds
Fifth Dimension (1966)
Initially conceived as a “melodramatic screenplay”, the song song evolved into a whimsical meditation on the existence of extraterrestrial life. Musically, it has a country-style backing, albeit with touches of psychedelia, and can clearly be seen as a precursor to the band’s later exploration of country music on Sweetheart of the Rodeo.
As such, the song has been cited by critics as one of the earliest examples of country rock. The title also recalled that of the Byrds’ earlier worldwide smash hit and debut single, “Mr. Tambourine Man”.
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