Queen City Sounds Podcast Ep. 14: Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds on His New Memoir She Walks In Beauty

Jim McCarty, photo by Robert Knight

Jim McCarty is a founding and current member of The Yardbirds. The latter was one of the most influential and creative of the blues rock bands of the 60s whose membership included Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page who, when the band broke up in 1968, formed Led Zeppelin. With a string of hits that include “For Your Love,” “Shape of Things,” “Heart Full of Soul” and “Over Under Sideways Down,” The Yardbirds were one of the key bands in the development of British blues rock and psychedelia. After the group split, McCarty became part of a variety of bands across the 60s, 70s and 80s (Renaissance, Together, Box of Frogs et. al.) and has released solo albums under his own name but since 1992 he’s also been part of the reformed Yardbirds. In 2018 McCarty issued his autobiography, focused on the career of his most well-known band, Nobody Told Me to great critical acclaim. On June 7, 2020 McCarty’s wife of over 25 years Elisabeth (Lizzy) passed away from cancer. The tragic event propelled the musician to look back on his life and examine his personal journey as a creative person fascinated by larger questions about life and left field realms of knowledge and comprehension of spiritual and philosophical issues. In the subsequent memoir, She Walks In Beauty (invoking the title of the Lord Byron poem) McCarty charts that path in an unpretentious and engaging way tracing the line between his imagination being sparked by the landmark British television show The Quatermass Experiment in 1953 through science fiction, an interest in UFOs, esoteric knowledge, the occult, Buddhism, mysticism, spiritual mediums and all manner of ideas that stir creative pondering and exploration of ideas and concepts that also informed the music. It is an intimate and touching portrait of a time and the people, including Yardbirds singer Keith Ralf who shared McCarty’s interests in unusual subjects, McCarty met along the way including Lizzy. We had a chance to speak with McCarty about the book and the fascinating details of his journey through learning about a wide range of Western and Eastern esotericism and spiritual traditions and its overlap with creative work as he followed his instincts and curiosity even as someone who was and remains a skeptic but one open to possibilities.

Listen to the interview on Bandcamp below and for all things Jim McCarty please visit the following websites: