Blackbird (song)

Infobox Song
Name = Blackbird
Artist = The Beatles
Album =



Released = 22 November 1968
track_no = 11 of disc 1
Recorded = 11 June 1968
Genre = Folk
Length = 2:18
Writer = Lennon-McCartney
Label = Apple Records
Producer = George Martin
Audio sample? = yes
Misc = Extra musicsample |filename=Beatles blackbird.ogg |format=Ogg |title=Blackbird |Type=song
Tracks = Side one
#"Back in the U.S.S.R."
#"Dear Prudence"
#"Glass Onion"
#"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
#"Wild Honey Pie"
#"The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill"
#"While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
#"Happiness Is a Warm Gun"Side two
#
  • "Martha My Dear"
    #"I'm So Tired"
    #"Blackbird"
    #"Piggies"
    #"Rocky Raccoon"
    #"Don't Pass Me By"
    #"Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"
    #"I Will"
    #"Julia"Side three
    #"Birthday"
    #"Yer Blues"
    #"Mother Nature's Son"
    #"Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"
    #"Sexy Sadie"
    #"Helter Skelter"
    #"Long, Long, Long"Side four
    #
  • "Revolution 1"
    #"Honey Pie"
    #"Savoy Truffle"
    #"Cry Baby Cry"
    #"Revolution 9"
    #"Good Night"

    "Blackbird" is a Beatles song from double-disc album "The Beatles" (also known as "The White Album"). Blackbird was written by Paul McCartney, who was inspired to write this while in Scotland as a reaction to racial tensions escalating in America in the spring of 1968.cite book |title=The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology |last=Everett |first=Walter |location=New York, London |publisher=Oxford University Press |pages=190 |isbn=978-0-19-512941-0 |year=1999]

    Origins

    McCartney revealed on PBS's "Great Performances (Paul McCartney: Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road)", aired in 2006, that the guitar accompaniment for Blackbird was inspired by Bach's "Bourrée in E minor", a well known classical guitar piece. As kids, he and George Harrison tried to learn "Bourrée" as a "show off" piece. "Bourrée" is distinguished by melody and bass notes played simultaneously on the upper and lower strings. McCartney adapted a segment of "Bourrée" as the opening of "Blackbird," and carried the musical idea throughout the song.

    The first night Linda Eastman, who would later become his wife, slept over, McCartney played it to the fans camped outside his house.cite book |first=Ian |last=MacDonald |authorlink=Ian MacDonald |title=Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties |year=2005 |pages=291-292 |edition=Second Revised Edition |publisher=Pimlico (Rand) |location=London |isbn=1-844-13828-3]

    Composition and recording

    The song was recorded 11 June 1968 in Abbey Road studios, with George Martin as the producer and Geoff Emerick as the audio engineer.cite book |first=Mark |last=Lewisohn |authorlink=Mark Lewisohn |title=The Beatles Recording Sessions |year=1988 |pages=137 |publisher=Harmony Books |location=New York |isbn=0-517-57066-1] McCartney played a Martin D 28 acoustic guitar. The track includes recordings of a blackbird singing in the background.

    The structure of the song is quite uneven, featuring a good amount of free verse phrasing, with the timing varying between 3/4, 4/4 and 2/4 metres. It is in the key of G, with the bass and melody lines on the guitar progressing mostly in parallel tenths, all the while maintaining an open G-drone on the third string. The song is played with a unique combination of fingerpicking and (a kind of) finger-strumming, though the bass notes are always played by the thumb on the downbeat.

    The song starts with an intro whose chords progress through I-II7(no5)-I6/3 up to the I chord played an octave higher. The verse begins with the same progression before moving into a long phrase starting on the IV chord with the bass notes ascending in half-steps up to the VI chord, before descending (also in half-steps) back to the IV. They descend still further back to the I chord, before launching into an instrumental interlude, a shortened four-measure backward recounting of the verse. The second verse follows, though this time it skips the interlude, going directly into the refrain. [The refrain consists of a two-round chord progression: VII (flat) (add9)-VImin(no5)-I7/5(no3)-IV, first time defined to a Imin/3 followed by the IV chord, and second to a I/3 chord, merging to the same chord progression as the interlude.]

    An instrumental reprisal of the verse, followed by the refrain (with vocals), leads back into the intro phrase whose last chord is repeatedly played for a couple of measures before making way for the introduction of the birds-chirping overdub. There is another brief instrumental interlude, which contains phrases from the intro and the verse, before going into a reprisal of the first verse and ending with an outro, containing the same sequence of chords as the first interlude.

    The song uses only a guitar, vocals, a steady tapping, and birdsong-overdub. It is disputed whether the birdsong-overdub is an actual Blackbird. The tapping rhythm, which sounds like either a foot tapping or a mechanical metronome, is in fact, according to The Compleat Beatles, an intentional scratch made on the Master.

    However, there exists a video that shows McCartney alternatingly rapping his feet on the floor, while singing an early version of the song, producing the percussion that can be heard in the recorded version. [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uqGCqMYaHQ "McCartney Blackbird's early version", "youtube.com"] retrieved 19 June, 2008.]

    Covers and cultural references

    Many bands and performers have made cover versions, including Phish, the Grateful Dead, Billy Preston, Kenny Rankin, Keller Williams, Carly Simon, Bonnie Pink, the Guess Who, Arturo Sandoval, Jesse McCartney, Dionne Farris, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Doves, Brad Mehldau, Harpers Bizarre, Bobby McFerrin, Jaco Pastorius, Dave Grohl, John Denver, Drake Bell, Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R., Elliott Smith, Justin Hayward, Marillion, and Maria João & Mário Laginha.

    Elements of the lyrics "("take these broken wings and learn to fly")" have re-appeared in other pop songs over the years, notably the number one hit "Broken Wings" by Mr. Mister and the Savage Garden song, "Gunning Down Romance" from the "Affirmation" album. Sections of "Blackbird" were incorporated into The Waterboys' cover of the Van Morrison song "Sweet Thing" on their album "Fisherman's Blues", and into the end of U2's "Beautiful Day" during their set at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London on July 2 2005, as well as some of the shows on the Vertigo Tour. Dynamite Hack references it at the end of their cover of "Boyz-N-The-Hood."

    Sarah McLachlan performed it for the soundtrack of the 2001 film I Am Sam.

    Evan Rachel Wood performed it in the 2007 film "Across the Universe".

    Carly Smithson performed it on "American Idol" on March 18, 2008 during the Beatles second theme night.
    Gustavo Santaolalla, a composer, was inspired by "Blackbird" when he wrote "The Wings" for the movie "Brokeback Mountain".

    Charles Manson took the song, along with "Helter Skelter" and "Piggies", as a metaphor for black-white race relations in the United States, which purportedly inspired his murders.

    Sara Gazarek wrote a medley of "Blackbird" and "Bye Bye Blackbird" that appears on her 2005 debut album, "Yours".

    Cris Barber covered "Blackbird" on her 2008 album entitled "This Moment to Be Free", a line taken from the song.

    Eddie Vedder also performed the song several times on his 2008 solo tour.

    Personnel

    *Paul McCartney: Acoustic Guitar, Vocal, and tapping.

    Notes

    External links

    * [http://www.stevesbeatles.com/songs/blackbird.asp Song lyrics]


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