Explaining the meaning behind song «Blackbird» – The Beatles

«Blackbird» - The Beatles: explaining the meaning of the song and songfacts songs

What is the meaning behind Blackbird» – The Beatles? This question has puzzled Beatles fans for years. Some say that the song is about a blackbird that is trapped in a gilded cage, while others believe that it is a symbol of hope and liberation. Regardless of its interpretation, “Blackbird” is one of The Beatles’ most iconic songs. Released on their 1968 album «The White Album», the track was written by Paul McCartney and features him singing and playing acoustic guitar. McCartney has said that the song is about somebody who is oppressed but has not lost hope. «Blackbird» quickly became a favorite among concertgoers and has been covered by numerous artists over the years. With its beautiful melody and inspiring lyrics, “Blackbird” is sure to touch your soul.

In the double (“White”) album of the British team “The Beatles” there is a non-standard composition “Blackbird”. The unusualness of the song is that in the recording you can hear the singing of a thrush and rhythmic tapping to the beat of the melody. Who was the author of the ballad, what inspired him to create the composition? There are different versions about the history of the appearance of the song “Blackbird”.

The song “Blackbird” (“Thrush”) was created by Paul McCartney, who also became the first performer of a rock ballad.

Paul McCartney himself said that two things prompted him to compose this composition: the singing of a blackbird, which Paul heard in India, and racial tension in the USA, which the whole world was talking about. It was no coincidence that the song appeared in 1968: on April 4, 1968, the famous African American, shepherd, defender of the rights of the black population, Martin Luther King, was killed.

Three versions about the history of the Blackbird song:

  1. Well-known.  McCartney wandered around India and, waking up one day in the town of Rishikesh, heard the call of a thrush, picked up a melody on the guitar, which became the theme of a new song.
  2. Political.  Paul disapproved of racial segregation in the United States, saw another African-American protest on the news, compared a humiliated black man to a blackbird that cannot fly because of a broken wing.
  3. Family, “volunteer”.  “The song is dedicated to Eddie Stopfort.” Eddie for Paul was GrandMa-in-Law. The woman was seriously ill that year, did not sleep well, and at night she listened to the voices of thrushes outside the window. Then McCartney made a tape recording of the call of the blackbird.
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The composition “Blackbird” from the rock group “The Beatles” appeared in 1968, but the exact birthday of the song could not be established. Paul once mentioned that the idea for the work came from India, but he wrote the ballad itself in Scotland. However, it can be argued that the text “Blackbird” appeared after the tragedy of 04/04/1968 (there is a hint of the death of Martin Luther King in the words).

The song “Thrush” was performed on 06/11/1968 for the film by Tony Bramwell from Apple, and then for the Beatles fans who settled under the windows of Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman.

Blackbird. Explaining the Meaning of the Beatles Song

The word “blackbird” is slang, appeared during the years of the slave trade and meant a black person. In the 60s of the XX century, the term acquired a positive meaning due to the active struggle of African Americans for their rights and freedoms.

Yes, Paul McCartney really liked listening to Indian thrushes, but the true meaning of his composition is not about a wounded bird torn from the sky. The blackbird is a symbol of a person who has been rejected, humiliated, discriminated against only because he was not born with a white skin color.

McCartney, already in the 21st century at concerts, repeatedly explained to the public the interpretation of the song “Blackbird”, emphasizing that all people on the planet are brothers. Yes, everyone hears the voice of birds / nature itself in the composition, someone recalls personal problems / failures under the ballad, but the true meaning of the song is a warning about the war of races on the Apocalypse level.

Alas, the beautiful composition “Thrush” became the pretext for the crimes of the “Family” organization under the leadership of Charles Manson. The maniac heard in the song a call to wage a mortal battle of “blacks” against “whites”. As a result, in the summer of 1969, a series of murders took place in Los Angeles.

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“Blackbird” by Paul McCartney. How the composition is composed

The rock ballad Thrush was recorded at London’s EMI Abbey Road Studios. George Martin was the producer/arranger, and Jeff Emerick was the sound engineer. The result is a romantic acoustic version of the song with political overtones.

The track “Blackbird” includes the sound of:

  • the singing of a black male thrush;
  • vocals by McCartney;
  • Paul playing acoustic guitar;
  • metronome-like tapping that emphasizes the passage of time on the left channel.

Sound producer Jeff Emerick, in an interview and McCartney in the documentary The Beatles Anthology, said that the “metronome” sound in the track “Blackbird” was obtained by alternately tapping Paul’s feet on the floor while singing.

Original guitar accompaniment

Knight Bachelor, MBE, Paul McCartney received an excellent education.

The University of Liverpool graduate once dabbled in playing early lute music on a regular guitar. McCartney was fond of Bach’s Bourre in E minor, and took the piece’s leitmotif as the basis for “Blackbird”, coloring it in a major scale.

Paul McCartney included the composition “Thrush” in concerts and medleys, played the song on world tours and on international tours.

Please note:  The ballad has a concert version.

Two interesting facts about the Blackbird song:

  1. In the rating of the reporter of the publishing house “The Independent” Jacob Stolworthy, out of 30 songs of the “White Album”, the composition “Blackbird” is in the 5th position. A cultural observer noted the ballad’s “exceptional calmness” against the backdrop of rising racial tension. Stolworthy considered the song to be special, outstanding, the culmination of McCartney’s career.
  2. 2019 year. Emma Stevens, a 16-year-old schoolgirl from Nova Scotia, asked a linguist-philologist friend to translate the song “Thrush” into the Mi’kmaq dialect. The girl performed a rock ballad in the language of a few Indians, the indigenous inhabitants of some provinces of New England and Canada.

The song “Blackbird” from the rock band “The Beatles” will delight the caring inhabitants of the planet for many years to come. Let the blackbird sing at night, and people will take “broken wings”, wait for the moment, open their eyes, be reborn, free and “fly up”.

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«Blackbird» – The Beatles songfacts

In the Song “Blackbird” there is a time change. The phrase “Blackbird singing in the dead of night” is built in 3/4, the rest of the composition changes between 4/4 and 2/4. Guitar tuning is also non-standard. The first and sixth strings are tuned a tone lower.

Paul McCartney recorded “Blackbird” on June 11, 1968. He used only a guitar and a metronome for accompaniment. Paul did 32 takes, recording 11 in full. The last one was the best. McCartney laid his vocals and second guitar on it. Towards the end of the session, sound effects from the Abbey Road library were added.

Stuart Eltan, engineer: “I recorded them on one of the first EMI portable tape recorders in my garden in Ickingham, sometime around 1965. I made two recordings, one with a bird singing and the other with an alarm clock going off.”

“Blackbird Singing” is the title of a book of poetry by Paul McCartney.

In 2012, 83-year-old Angie McCartney, Paul McCartney’s stepmother, released a book of memoirs, My Long and Winding Road. Angie married Jim McCartney at the height of Beatlemania in November 1964.

In her memoir, she shared her memories of Paul visiting his father’s house in the 1960s. In particular, Angie told the details about the creation of the song “Blackbird”. According to Jim’s widow, the Beatle dedicated the song to Go – Angie’s mother. Once an elderly lady was visiting the McCartney mansion. She wasn’t feeling well, and Paul went to check on her.

According to Angie, the grandmother complained of restless sleep and added that the beautiful trills of the blackbird outside the window helped her fall asleep. Then Paul took a tape recorder and sat next to the guest all night to record the song of a bird. On one of the first takes of “Blackbird”, McCartney actually says that the song is dedicated to Go.

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