North county blue eyed soul garage rockers the Lyrics are best known for their 1965 single “So What!” which appeared in the Pebbles garage band compilation series. The song is mainly about the hate and rage songwriter Christopher Gaylord (who grew up in Cardiff) felt toward a rich girl who once rejected him.
According to Gaylord (later known as Raymond Clearwater), “As for why I was so angry in my songs – I really don’t know. I wrote both of those songs to (or at) a girl I was going with at the time. Her family had a very nice home and two refrigerators and all kinds of things that I had never seen and I was dirt poor and came from a very low income environment. Raised by my grandmother on a small ranch in Cardiff, CA. I was pretty much of a punk. I certainly had my share of trouble in High School, was in Juvenile Hall for a bit, and I guess you might say I had somewhat of a BAD ATTITUDE – at any rate, if you add that up with the fact that I was attempting to be a Rolling Stone kind of guy, in conjunction with a Bob Dylan kind of guy, you get anger and resentment.”
The band went through numerous lineup changes. Bassist Dan Garcia (whose brother Billy spent time as the band's guitarist) recalls “We would go on the local TV show called TV8 Dance Time in San Diego and promote our records. I remember being on with groups like the Buffalo Springfield, the Association, Neal Diamond, Glen Campbell, the Box Tops, the Byrds, and opening for groups like the Young Rascals, the Doors, Howlin' Wolf , a great group from Canada called the Collectors. We also went on a talk show called the Woody Woodbury show in L.A. - we were on with Betty White and singer Vic Dana.”
They recorded for labels such as Era, GNP Crescendo, and Feather, and in late 1966 spent time working with Stan Ross at Gold Star Studio, home of the famed Wrecking Crew. The songwriting credit for their 1966 Crescendo single "My Son" (b/w "So Glad") was credited to singer Craig Carll, but later disputed by Geoff Bradley, a former arranger who worked with the group.
"I think the Lyrics was a really good band and Craig was an exceptional singer," says Bradley. "I wrote 'My Son' the day my boy was born. Craig asked me if he could record the song, and I said sure, go ahead. I didn't say that he or anybody else could claim that they wrote it."
A 1967 video posted on YouTube shows the band playing the Oceanside Community Center with the Survivors and the Band from U.N.C.L.E., filmed for the Dance Time show. Their single "Mr. Man" topped local radio charts in Autumn 1967.
Chris Gaylord later fronted Magic Mushroom, which featured fellow former Lyric Mike Allen alongside two members of the California Sons, John Buell and Gary Williams (from their original incarnation, not the latterday California SUNS spinoff). Gaylord also recorded solo tracks like 1967's folky "Don't Talk to Strangers," which appeared in 2000 on the Best of Broadside 1962-1988 box set.
Craig Carll passed away in January 2012. The band's late 1965 single "So What!!" b/w "They Can't Hurt Me" was reissued on 7-inch vinyl by Ace Records in summer 2021.