Gene Clark — “Elevator Operator”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 1, 2022


655) Gene Clark — “Elevator Operator”

The first “solo” album by the former Big Byrd contained this lovely “garage-rock ditty” that is “pure groove, jangle, and boogie” (Uncut,, “features blatant drug double entendres and trippy harmonies” (Aphoristic, and “Revolver-era Beatles influence” (

The song’s “about a fickle woman who ‘could make you feel/that you were up to stay’ but then just as quickly ‘she took you down all the way’, was a clear standout on [the album].” (Michael Panontin, I love, love, love it, but Matthew Greenwald tells us that Clark hated it! —

A slightly nasty little rock song, “Elevator Operator” was one of Gene Clark’s least favorite songs from his solo debut album . . . . So much was his disdain for it that when the album was re-mixed and re-released in the early ’70s, he successfully lobbied Columbia to drop it from the album. While Clark certainly had a point here, the song does indeed have a certain period charm as a slightly psychedelic pop-rocker.

As to Clark, Mark Deming tells us that:

[He] will always be best-known for his short stint as lead singer for the Byrds from 1964 to 1966 . . . . [He] helped invent country-rock with 1968’s Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers album [from which today’s song is taken], then teamed with Doug Dillard in the late ’60s to make two records that served as a blueprint for Americana. . . . Clark’s clear and true vocals, his poetic turns of phrase, and his skill at weaving melancholy melodies never wavered. . . . [L]ong after his passing in 1991, has remained influential to each new generation of jangle pop artists . . . .

Clark . . . [was in] the New Christy Minstrels, a well-scrubbed folk-pop ensemble . . . . However, [he] longed to perform his own songs and didn’t care for life on the road; after hearing the Beatles for the first time, Clark decided he wanted to form a rock band and he quit . . . and moved to Los Angeles. There, he met . . . [Roger] McGuinn . . . . Clark quickly became the Byrds’ dominant songwriter, penning most of their best-known originals . . . . [But] the combination of [his] dislike of traveling (including a fear of flying) and resentment that his songwriting income made him the best-paid member of the group led to tensions . . . and in 1966 Clark opted to leave . . . . [I]n 1967 he released his first solo set, Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers, a pioneering fusion of country and rock.

No Depression adds that:

[Clark] infused the [Byrds] with much of its soul and vision, establishing himself as a pivotal folk-rock innovator . . . . Overwhelmed by demands of fame and tired of clashing with the contentious Crosby, Clark left the band in 1966; Byrds manager Jim Dickson landed him the Columbia contract that spawned this album. Recorded with the Byrds’ rhythm section of Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke, plus A-list Los Angeles studio musicians Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, Gene Clark With The Gosdin Brothers . . . [was] a glorious brew of ’60s folk-rock, proto-country-rock and complex, Beatlesque pop . . . .

Alex Stimmel concludes that:

The album contains a number of fine pop-oriented tunes and stellar folk-rock/country-rock numbers . . . a year before the Byrds’ Sweatheart of the Rodeo . . . . [It] failed to make much of an impact, perhaps due to its being released in the same week as the Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday . . . . [The album] stands as the one of the best, if not the best, example of how powerful a singer, writer, and bandleader he was.

Here is an alternate take:

Here is a cool version by Canada’s Tomorrows’ Keepsake:

I have added a Facebook page for Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock! If you like what you read and hear and feel so inclined, please visit and “like” my Facebook page by clicking here.

Pay to Play! The Off the Charts Spotify Playlist! + Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock Merchandise

Please consider helping to support my website/blog by contributing $6 a month for access to the Off the Charts Spotify Playlist. Using a term familiar to denizens of Capitol Hill, you pay to play! (“relating to or denoting an unethical or illicit arrangement in which payment is made by those who want certain privileges or advantages in such arenas as business, politics, sports, and entertainment” —

The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

All new subscribers will receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock magnet. New subscribers who sign up for a year will also receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock t-shirt or baseball cap. See pictures on the Pay to Play page.

When subscribing, please send me an e-mail ( or a comment on this site letting me know an e-mail address/phone number/Facebook address, etc. to which I can send instructions on accessing the playlist and a physical address to which I can sent a magnet/t-shirt/baseball cap. If choosing a t-shirt, please let me know the gender and size you prefer.

Just click on the first blue block for a month to month subscription or the second blue block for a yearly subscription.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: