Chris Hill­man

The for­mer Byrd re­turns with a new al­bum, with a lit­tle help from fa­mous friends, that he says could be his last.

Classic Rock - - The Dirt - Bidin’ My Time is re­leased on Septem­ber 22 via Proper Mu­sic.

As one of the god­fa­thers of coun­try rock, Chris Hill­man helped shape the course of Amer­i­cana through his for­mi­da­ble body of work with The Byrds, the Fly­ing Bur­rito Broth­ers, Manas­sas and the Desert Rose Band from the 1960s on­wards. More than a decade has passed since his last solo al­bum, but the 72-yearold has just re­turned with the ex­cep­tional Bidin’ My Time al­bum. Pro­duced by Tom Petty, its im­pres­sive cast in­cludes The Heart­break­ers’ Ben­mont Tench and Steve Fer­rone, plus the two sur­viv­ing Byrds, David Crosby and

Roger McGuinn.

It’s been too long since your last al­bum, 2005’s The Other Side. Why such a long wait? To be to­tally hon­est, I was los­ing in­ter­est. I’ve been do­ing this since I was seven­teen and the trav­el­ling was start­ing to wear on me.

The al­bum was pre­sented to me, re­ally. Herb Ped­er­sen had been singing back-up vo­cals for Tom [Petty] when he was on the road with Mud­crutch last year. Be­tween them, they con­jured up this idea. Tom told me we could record in his stu­dio, but I told him he might not like any of my songs. He said: “No, I trust you.” I was sort of re­ju­ve­nated through this process. I guess when you least seek some­thing, it comes to you.

Is this you re­claim­ing your legacy?

It went that way with­out any pre­plan­ning. But to­wards the end of this project, I said to Petty: “Y’know, this is kind of a con­cep­tual al­bum.” It’s cov­er­ing early blue­grass and The Byrds, and even the ti­tle song, Bidin’ My Time, re­minds me of an old Fly­ing Bur­ri­tos cut. For the Everly Broth­ers track [Walk Right Back], Herb and I were just goof­ing around with it be­tween takes, and Tom ran out of the booth and said: “Let’s cut it!” That song was such an in­flu­ence on me. I was al­ways drawn to two- and three-part har­mony singing.

The Byrds first recorded The Bells Of Rhym­ney in 1965. What prompted you to redo it for this record?

To me, that was The Byrds’ sig­na­ture song. It re­ally ex­plained who we were and what we were do­ing. Herb and I had cut that acous­ti­cally on an­other record, but I said to him: “If I can get Crosby to sing with us, let’s cut it.” And I did. David and I still kid around with each other af­ter all these years, but I love the guy, as I do Roger. It wasn’t a con­trived method to get The Byrds back to­gether, it was about hav­ing my friends in­volved.

You also pay trib­ute to the late Gene Clark, The Byrds’ chief song­writer, by re­do­ing his 1965 song She Don’t Care About Time.

What a lyric! Imag­ine this man writ­ing that at nine­teen years old. We all as­pired to write some­thing that deep. None of us ever saw Gene read a book, but these beau­ti­ful, di­vinely in­spired lyrics would come out of him. My God, he wrote so many brilliant songs through­out his life. But then the other side of the coin was that he was this tor­tured soul. Whether or not that mo­ti­vated him, I’m not sure.

So what’s next for you?

I’ve been do­ing a few other things, in­clud­ing writ­ing the oblig­a­tory, age­ing-rock-star au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. I was all done, but now I have to fin­ish the last chap­ter, be­cause my life changed with do­ing this record. I don’t know if I’ll make an­other al­bum, but this would be a nice way to end it. RH

“It wasn’t a con­trived method to get The Byrds back to­gether.”

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