Old John Robertson

Album: The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1967)

Songfacts®:

  • Written by band members Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn, this was based on the retired silent film actor and director John S. Robertson, who lived in the small town near San Diego where Hillman grew up. Robertson's best known work was probably his 1920 screen adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring John Barrymore.
  • The song was originally released as the B-side to The Byrds' "Lady Friend" single on July 13, 1967 in the United States and Europe. It was included the following year on their The Notorious Byrd Brothers album.
  • Chris Hillman recorded an updated version titled "New Old John Robertson" for his 2017 Bidin My Time album. He told Uncut magazine:

    "All I did was just enhance it a little and build on the story. He was a real guy, a silent film director from Hollywood, I just added a new bridge to the song hopefully with Roger's blessing. I was never quite happy with the song. Sometimes you think, 'Gosh, I wish I'd done this or that on a song.' And then maybe 30 or 40 years later, you finally get the opportunity."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater RevivalFact or Fiction

Is "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" about Vietnam? Was John Fogerty really born on a Bayou? It's the CCR edition of Fact or Fiction.

Millie Jackson

Millie JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Outrageously gifted and just plain outrageous, Millie is an R&B and Rap innovator.

Chris Tomlin

Chris TomlinSongwriter Interviews

The king of Christian worship music explains talks about writing songs for troubled times.

Francesca Battistelli

Francesca BattistelliSongwriter Interviews

The 2011 Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards isn't your typical gospel diva, and she thinks that's a good thing.

Queen

QueenFact or Fiction

Scaramouch, a hoople and a superhero soundtrack - see if you can spot the real Queen stories.

Best Band Logos

Best Band LogosSong Writing

Queen, Phish and The Stones are among our picks for the best band logos. Here are their histories and a design analysis from an expert.