Blackbird (Beatles song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Lon Dubh / Blackbird)
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the Beatles song. For other songs with similar titles, see Blackbird (disambiguation).
"Blackbird"
Beatles-blackbird.jpg
Sheet music
Song by The Beatles from the album The Beatles
Published Northern Songs
Released 22 November 1968
Recorded 11 June 1968,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Folk
Length 2:19
Label Apple
Writer(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
Music sample

"Blackbird" is a song by the Beatles, but performed as a solo effort by Paul McCartney, from their 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as "the White Album"). The song was written by McCartney, though credited to Lennon–McCartney. McCartney has stated that the lyrics of the song were inspired by the unfortunate state of race relations in the United States in the 1960s.

Origins[edit]

McCartney explained on Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road, aired in 2005, that the guitar accompaniment for "Blackbird" was inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach's Bourrée in E minor, a well-known lute piece, often played on the classical guitar. As teenagers, he and George Harrison tried to learn Bourrée as a "show off" piece. The Bourrée is distinguished by melody and bass notes played simultaneously on the upper and lower strings. McCartney adapted a segment of the Bourrée (reharmonised into the original's relative major key of G) as the opening of "Blackbird", and carried the musical idea throughout the song.

The first night his future wife Linda Eastman stayed at his home, McCartney played "Blackbird" for the fans camped outside his house.[1] The fingerpicking technique that McCartney uses in the song was taught to him by folk singer Donovan.

Meaning[edit]

Since composing "Blackbird" in 1968, McCartney has given differing, contradictory statements regarding both his inspiration for the song and its meaning.[2] In one of these scenarios, he has said he was inspired by hearing the call of a blackbird one morning when the Beatles were studying Transcendental Meditation in Rishikesh, India.[3] In another, he recalls writing it in Scotland as a response to racial tensions escalating in the United States during the spring of 1968.[4]

In May 2002, following a show in Dallas, Texas, McCartney discussed the song with KCRW DJ Chris Douridas, saying:

I had been doing some [poetry readings] in the last year or so because I've got a poetry book out called Blackbird Singing, and when I would read "Blackbird", I would always try and think of some explanation to tell the people … So, I was doing explanations, and I actually just remembered why I'd written "Blackbird", you know, that I'd been, I was in Scotland playing on my guitar, and I remembered this whole idea of "you were only waiting for this moment to arise" was about, you know, the black people's struggle in the southern states, and I was using the symbolism of a blackbird. It's not really about a blackbird whose wings are broken, you know, it's a bit more symbolic.[5][6]

Before his acoustic guitar set during the same US tour, McCartney explained that "bird" is British slang for girl, making "blackbird" a synonym for "black girl".

The lyrics have invited similarly varied interpretations – as a nature song, a message in support of the Black Power movement, or a love song.[7] Writing in the 1990s, Ian MacDonald dismissed the idea that "Blackbird" was intended as "a metaphor for the black civil rights struggle".[8] Noting instead the composition's romantic qualities, MacDonald said that the early-morning birdsong "translates … into a succinct metaphor for awakening on a deeper level".[9] In his discussion of "Blackbird", author Andrew Hickey writes that McCartney only began citing the civil-rights issue as his inspiration after some commentators had raised the possibility; Hickey considers this to be an example of revisionism on McCartney's part in an effort to assign greater profundity to his lyrics.[10] However, during an informal rehearsal at EMI Studios on 22 November 1968, before he and Donovan took part in a Mary Hopkin recording session, McCartney played "Blackbird" and said that he had written the "broken wings" verse after reading newspaper reports about "the rights thing".[11]

Composition and recording[edit]

The song was recorded on 11 June 1968 at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London,[12] with George Martin as the producer and Geoff Emerick as the audio engineer.[13] It is a solo performance with McCartney playing a Martin D 28 acoustic guitar. The track includes recordings of a male blackbird singing in the background.[13][14]

The accompaniment consists of guitar, tapping, and birdsong overdub. The tapping "has been incorrectly identified as a metronome in the past", according to engineer Geoff Emerick, who says it is actually the sound of Paul tapping his foot, which Emerick recalls as being mic'd up separately.[15] Footage included in the bonus content on disc two of the 2009 remaster of the album shows McCartney tapping both his feet alternately while performing the song.

The mono version contains bird sounds different from the stereo recording, and was originally issued on a mono incarnation of The Beatles (it has since been issued worldwide as part of The Beatles in Mono CD box set). The song appears on Love with "Yesterday", billed as "Blackbird/Yesterday". "Blackbird" provides an introduction to "Yesterday".

Live performances[edit]

In 1973, McCartney included the song, along with the Beatles track "Michelle",[16] as part of his acoustic medley in the television special James Paul McCartney.[17] Starting with his 1975–76 world tour with the band Wings, McCartney has performed "Blackbird" on every one of his concert tours.[18] A solo performance of the song, followed by "Yesterday", appears on Wings' 1976 live album Wings Over America.

McCartney also included "Blackbird" in his set at the Party at the Palace concert in June 2002. In 2009, McCartney performed the song at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, commenting prior to singing it on how it had been written in response to the Civil Rights Movement, and added, "It's so great to realise so many civil rights issues have been overcome."[19]

Personnel[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

"Blackbird"
Blackbird (Dandy Warhols cover) single cover.jpeg
Single by The Dandy Warhols
Released July 31, 2009 (2009-07-31)
Format Digital
Length 03:36
Label Beat the World
Writer(s) Lennon–McCartney
The Dandy Warhols singles chronology
"Horny as a Dandy"
(2006)
"Blackbird"
(2009)
"You Are Killing Me"
(2016)

"Blackbird" is, by one count, one of the top ten most recorded songs of all time.[20] The following artists have recorded "Blackbird" in a variety of styles:

References[edit]

  1. ^ MacDonald 1989, p. 256fn.
  2. ^ Flemming, James (11 November 2009). "The Records, Day Four: 1968–1969". PopMatters. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  3. ^ Turner 1999, p. 160.
  4. ^ Everett 1999, p. 190.
  5. ^ Paul McCartney, Interview with KCRW's Chris Douridas, 25 May 2002 episode of New Ground (17:50–19:00)
  6. ^ KCRW, "New Ground" with Chris Douridas, 25 May 2002 (17:50–19:00), "KCRW Archive", "Audio"
  7. ^ Miles 2001, p. 317.
  8. ^ MacDonald 1998, p. 256fn.
  9. ^ MacDonald 1998, pp. 256, 256fn.
  10. ^ Hickey 2010, p. 149.
  11. ^ "Paul McCartney & Donovan – Postcard Sessions 1968". 13 April 2016. 
  12. ^ MacDonald 1998, p. 255.
  13. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, p. 137.
  14. ^ "'Blackbird'". Rolling Stone. 
  15. ^ Recording the Beatles, pg. 484
  16. ^ Madinger & Easter 2000, p. 180.
  17. ^ Badman 2001, p. 96.
  18. ^ Womack 2014, p. 153.
  19. ^ Bychawski, Adam (18 April 2009). "Paul McCartney gets emotional during marathon Coachella set". nme.com. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  20. ^ "The 10 Most Covered Songs". The Independent. 
  21. ^ Hoffman, K. Ross. "Michael Jackson's death causes The Dandy Warhols to cover The Beatles". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  22. ^ "The Dandy Warhols Are Sound – The Dandy Warhols". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  23. ^ Price, Deborah Evans (April, 2012). "Cover Set Soars". Billboard - The International Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment. Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  24. ^ Tamashiro, Tim (3 August 2012). "Jazz for Dabblers: 'Blackbird,' the Beatles and Brad Mehldau". CBC Music. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  25. ^ The Art of the Trio, Vol. 1 at Allmusic. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  26. ^ "Watch Jon Batiste's gorgeous cover of The Beatles' 'Blackbird' on 'Colbert'". For The Win. 2016-02-11. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 

Sources[edit]

  • Badman, Keith (2001). The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Break-Up 1970–2001. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-7119-8307-6. 
  • Everett, Walter (1999). The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology. New York, London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512941-0. 
  • Hickey, Andrew (2010). The Beatles in Mono. Raleigh, NC: Lulu Press. ISBN 978-1-4461-8489-9. 
  • Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1. 
  • MacDonald, Ian (1998). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties. London: Pimlico. ISBN 978-0-7126-6697-8. 
  • Madinger, Chip; Easter, Mark (2000). Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium. Chesterfield, MO: 44.1 Productions. ISBN 0-615-11724-4. 
  • Miles, Barry (2001). The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-8308-9. 
  • Sounes, Howard (2010). Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-723705-0. 
  • Turner, Steve (1999). A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Carlton/HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-273698-1. 
  • Womack, Kenneth (2014). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-39171-2. 

External links[edit]