Podcast

What the Beatles Song 'Blackbird' Was Really About

According to Paul McCartney, he was relaying a beautiful message of hope.


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Episode Transcript 

This is BirdNote. 

Paul McCartney and the rest of the Beatles most certainly grew up hearing Eurasian Blackbirds, in their home of Liverpool. Eurasian Blackbirds are common in the gardens and throughout the countryside in Great Britain. 

But McCartney wasn’t singing about the bird. He was singing about the racial strife in the American South in the 1960s. As he said later, “This was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: ‘Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith; there is hope.’”

It was a trying time, and Sir Paul said later that he saw the song as empowerment.

Here is McCartney's full qoute as it appared in Many Years from Now, by Barry Miles: 

'I had in mind a black woman, rather than a bird. Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: “Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith; there is hope.”

As is often the case with my things, a veiling took place, so rather than saying, “Black woman living in Little Rock” and be very specific, she became a bird, became symbolic, so you could apply it to your particular problem.'  

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Credits

Written by Ellen Blackstone

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

Sounds of Eurasian Blackbird provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, 84549 recorded by M. Medler. 

“Blackbird” from The White Album with the Beatles, E.M.I. Records, 1968. Written by Paul McCartney. (McCartney said the music was inspired by J.S. Bach's Bourrée in E minor.)

© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org     January 2017   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# EURBLA-mccartneyp-01-2012-1-16

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