Bye Bye Blackbird

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"Bye, Bye, Blackbird" is a song published in 1926 by the American composer Ray Henderson and lyricist Mort Dixon. It is considered a popular standard and was first recorded by Gene Austin in 1926.[1]

Song information[edit]

It was the #16 song of 1926 according to Pop Culture Madness.[2] In 1982, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) posthumously awarded John Coltrane a Grammy Award of "Best Jazz Solo Performance" for the work on his album Bye Bye Blackbird.[3] Recordings of the song often include only the chorus; the verses are far less known.[4] In the Movie Pete Kelly's Blues, the members of Pete's band were singing Bye Bye Black Bird while driving an open car down a country road. Their song was interrupted when they were run off the road by gangsters who were trying to extort money from the band.

The song was also copied by Charlie and His Orchestra, German Karl Schwedler, of The Templin Band during World War II as part of Joseph Goebbels' propaganda campaign. But the lyrics were changed to reflect the German political rhetoric of the time and intended to demoralize the Allied forces. The tune(s) were sung in English and aimed at United States and British troops, as well as British citizens. It was not permitted in Nazi Germany to play the song and melody because the Nazi leadership forbade "degenerate" styles of music such as jazz.[citation needed]

Segregationists opposed to the American Civil Rights Movement, notably at the Selma to Montgomery marches, played the song over loudspeakers as a taunt.[5]

Two former Beatles have each recorded the song: Ringo Starr for his 1970 album Sentimental Journey, and Paul McCartney for his 2012 album Kisses on the Bottom. Both men have commented that the song was one of many "standards" that they grew up singing with their families.[6][7]

It is used in the musicals Liza with a Z and Fosse.

Meaning of the lyrics[edit]

There is much speculation about the meaning of the song.[8] At least two commentators (using the same source) attribute the song to a prostitute's leaving the business and going home to her mother.[9][10] As such, it is the opposite of "House of the Rising Sun," where the prostitute returns to the business.[11] The reason for the song's apparent ambiguity is that the opening verse and the verses about the bluebird are rarely sung.


"Bye, Bye, Blackbird" has been recorded by many artists, including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Joe Cocker: Bye, Bye, Blackbird at Retrieved on 8 June 2009.
  2. ^ Pop Music Hits of 1926 Song Chart at Retrieved on 8 June 2009.
  3. ^ John Coltrane, The Official Site Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  4. ^ What are the rest of the lyrics to "Bye, Bye, Blackbird?" at Retrieved on 8 June 2009.
  5. ^ Renata Adler (1965-04-10). "Letter from Selma". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  6. ^ Sentimental Journey (Booklet). Ringo Starr. Apple, Apple Corps / Capitol, EMI. 1970 [1995]. CDP 0777 7 98615 2 1.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Bye Bye Blackbird at Retrieved on 8 February 2012.
  8. ^ Jazz Standards Songs and Instrumentals (Bye, Bye, Blackbird)
  9. ^ Blackbird blackbird singing the blues all day / Bye, Bye, Blackbird
  10. ^ The Straight Dope: What are the rest of the lyrics to "Bye, Bye, Blackbird"?
  11. ^ Ted Anthony, Chasing the Rising Sun: The Journey of an American Song
  12. ^ Ben Webster & Oscar Peterson, Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson: The Legendary Sessions Retrieved 09-24-11
  13. ^ Enoch Light, Big Hits of the 20's Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  14. ^ Miles, Barry (1998). The Beatles a Diary: An Intimate Day by Day History. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780711963153. 
  15. ^