You're a Better Man Than I

The Yardbirds

About You're a Better Man Than I

"You're a Better Man Than I", alternately listed as "Mr. You're a Better Man Than I" or "Better Man Than I", is a song first recorded by the English rock band the Yardbirds. It was written by brothers Mike and Brian Hugg, and became the opening track to the group's second American album, Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds (1965). Three months later in February 1966, it was released in the UK as the B-side to the "Shapes of Things" single. With its politically-conscientious lyrics and catchy melody, "You're a Better Man Than I" has been covered several times. The most successful rendition was recorded by American garage rock band Terry Knight and the Pack, who earned a minor national hit with the tune. With the exception of "Still I'm Sad", the composition, like other tracks on Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds, was not penned by any of the band members. Nonetheless, "You're a Better Man Than I", along with "Shapes of Things", is perhaps the best example of Jeff Beck's experimentation with distorted guitar instrumentals and use of feedback in the Yardbirds' recordings. Also like "Shapes of Things", the composition incorporated elements of psychedelic rock. Lyrically, the song makes a statement directed toward issues concerning the era such as judging others based on race, government intervention, and use of violence. Music critic Matthew Greenwald, writing for AllMusic, notes the tune as a successful attempt at producing contemporary folk rock without "compromising the band's dark, threatening lyrics". In February 1966, Terry Knight and the Pack recorded their own version of "You're a Better Man Than I" after hearing the Yardbirds perform the song at a gig in Michigan. Writing on the musical career of Terry Knight, music historian Barry Stroller described the Pack's rendition as a "bona-fide classic", before commending its "surprisingly subtle delivery, basic electric guitar chords supported gently with organ and rhythm section, Knight brilliantly finds (admittedly in lyrics he did not write) a perfect narrative in which to grow from teeniebopper heartthrob to social voice of conscience". The song was the first recording by the group to chart nationally, bubbling under the Billboard charts at number 125. Regionally, "Better Man Than I" also reached the Top 10 of several radio charts, and overall sold approximately 150,000 copies. Since the Yardbirds' original version, "You're a Better Man Than I" has been interpreted by other groups. Chicago-based garage rock band New Colony Six featured the composition on their debut album Breakthrough in June 1966. In 1969, Manfred Mann Chapter Three, with Mike Hugg on lead vocals, released the song on their self-titled debut album. The song was particularly popular among teen groups in Fort Worth, Texas, and was covered by the Cynics and Jinx. These interpretations have become more accessible with their inclusion on Fort Worth Teen Scene! albums. 


Year:
1994
113 

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(B. Hugg / M. Hugg)
Can you judge a man,
By the way he wears his hair?
Can you read his mind,
By the clothes that he wears?
Can you see a bad man,
By the pattern on his tie?

Well then, Mr, you're a better man than I,
Yeah, Mr, you're a better man than I,
Oh, Mr, you're a better man than I,
Yeah, Mr, you're a better man than I.

Could you tell a wise man,
By the way he speaks or spells?
Is this more important,
Than the stories that he tells?
And call a man a fool,
If for wealth he doesn't strive?

Well then, Mr, you're a better man than I,
Yeah, Mr, you're a better man than I,
Oh, Mr, you're a better man than I,
Yeah, Mr, you're a better man than I.

Can you condemn a man,
If you're faith he doesn't hold?
Say the colour of his skin,
Is the colour of his soul?
Could you say that men,
For king and country all must die?

Well, Mr, you're a better man than I,
Yeah, Mr, you're a better man than I,
Oh, Mr, you're a better man than I,
Yeah, Mr, you're a better man than I.

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The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds are an English rock band that had a string of hits in the mid 1960s, including "For Your Love", "Over Under Sideways Down" and "Heart Full of Soul". The group is notable for having started the careers of three of rock's most famous guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page, all of whom were in the top five of Rolling Stone's 100 Top Guitarists list (Clapton at No. 2, Page at No. 3, and Beck at No. 5). A blues-based band that broadened its range into pop and rock, the Yardbirds had a hand in many electric guitar innovations of the mid-1960s, such as feedback, "fuzztone" distortion and improved amplification. Pat Pemberton, writing for Spinner, holds that the Yardbirds were "the most impressive guitar band in rock music". After the Yardb… more »

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Written by: Brian Hugg, Mike Hugg

Lyrics © Wixen Music Publishing, BMG Rights Management, T.R.O. INC., Songtrust Ave

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