Gene Clark, Two Sides to Every Story

Richard Gehr

By Richard Gehr

on 11.18.14 in Reviews

Released originally in 1977, Two Sides to Every Story was intended to reintroduce country-rocking Byrds co-founder Gene Clark to the record-buying public a couple of years after the commercial disappointment of No Other — a sleeper now rightfully regarded as a masterpiece. Sharing the same producer (Thomas Jefferson Kaye) and several of the same fine studio musicians (along with Emmylou Harris on backing vocals), Two Sides is as comfortably accessible as No Other was baroquely discombobulating.

A conservative retrenchment to Clark’s country roots

Two Sides is in large part a conservative retrenchment to Clark’s country roots. Its finer moments include the energetically harmonized bluegrass standard “In the Pines,” with nifty fiddling by Byrone Berlin, and the emotionally devastating “Lonely Saturday,” in which Clark ruminates on his recently failed marriage in George Jones-worthy lines like “Thursday evening at six o’clock/ I stepped into a world of living all alone.” Clark began performing in Missouri during the early ’60s, an era reflected in the boogie-ing “Kansas City Southern” and “Marylou.” And if the Byrds‘ success was due equally to their Dylan covers and Clark originals like “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better,” Two Sides opener “Home Run King” suggests what might have been if the two Midwesterners had ever collaborated.

Clark’s forte as a pop songwriter, however, was heart-wrenching confessional balladry, and Two Sides includes a trio of guaranteed weepers. The best of these, “Silent Crusade,” addresses “the light of inspiration/ And the darkness of doubt” that appeared to define this undiagnosed bipolar sufferer’s lifelong struggle with depression and addiction. Clark’s reputation has flourished since his death in 1991 at age 46, however, and Two Sides to Every Story contains just about enough nuts-and-bolts craft to demonstrate why; for the rest of the story, there is No Other.