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"Blackbird"

Categories: Beatles songs

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Paul McCartney playing an acoustic guitar in India, 1968
When "Blackbird" became blackened by its association with the Manson massacres, McCartney tended to play down its call to "(a)rise", though he later admitted that the lyric had been written in support of America's struggle for racial equality — albeit inspired more by the MLK approach than Panther-style militancy or psychopathic bloodlust.

All your life,
You were only waiting for this moment to be free...


Having said that, the political correctness of referring to a girl by the somewhat derogatory name of 'bird' does still remain rather dubious.

Paul also confessed to having borrowed the intricate guitar part from Bach: a 'showing off piece' that he and George used to play together as apprentices. This time, his acoustic was accompanied only by a tapping foot (some say a click-scratch on the acetate, some a metronome). The twittering Turdus merula was dubbed on after the recording, which he performed 'live', playing and singing simultaneously — after a number of rehearsal takes, of course. The song has remained a staple part of his stage repertoire, from Wings to the present.

During the sessions, a recently-formed trio called Crosby, Stills and Nash had been at Abbey Road to audition for Apple Records. Despite being turned down (heaven knows why!) they decided to adapt the tune to their three-part harmony style. They went on to perform it at their first gig the following year — a little thing called Woodstock — though their studio take wasn't officially issued until it was included on a box-set comp many years later.

Blackbird, fly:
Into the light of the dark, black night!

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