The Beatles released “Blackbird” on November 22, 1968. McCartney was first inspired to write the lyrics after hearing the call of a blackbird while he was in Rishikesh, India. Ultimately, the song developed into a powerful message about the unfortunate state of race relations in the United States in the 1960s. What first appeared as a simple but impressive solo acoustic McCartney track on the White Album has ended up becoming one of the most popular signature pieces of his entire career. Here are a few interesting facts about the song before we hear Paul McCartney perform it live as part of his Rockshow this Sunday on AXS TV!
Paul’s voice, his Martin D-28 acoustic guitar, and tapping that keeps time on the left channel are the only three sounds heard on this track. The tapping remains to be somewhat of a mystery. In the Beatles Anthology video, McCartney appears to be making the sound with his foot. However, some sources claim it is a metronome.
McCartney used Bach’s Bourrée in E minor for lute as inspiration for “Blackbird”. He told Mojo magazine October 2008, “We had the first four bars (of the Bourrée in E minor) and that was as far as my imagination went. I think George had it down for a few more bars and then he crapped out. So I made up the next few bars, and it became the basis of ‘Blackbird.'”
In his own words, “It’s such a beautiful piece of music, perfect in composition and performance, and in its lyrics and in the range of his voice. Just learning that song made me a better guitar player and gave me a better appreciation of songwriting. To me, it’s just musical bliss.” He even performed this song at the Academy Awards in 2015.
“Blackbird” has been covered by several different artists in a variety of different styles including Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Dandy Warhols, Neil Diamond, Sarah McLachlan, Phish, Sia, and more. The only charting version of the song was by the Cast of Glee, which took it to #37 in 2011.
Several fans were waiting outside of McCartney’s home when he decided to give them an impromptu performance of “Blackbird”. According to one of them, “Paul opened the window and called out to us, ‘Are you still down there?’ ‘Yes,’ we said. He must have been really happy that night. He sat on the window sill with his acoustic guitar and sang Blackbird to us as we stood down there in the dark.”
Hear this amazing song + many more of Paul McCartney’s hits with Rockshow this Sunday 9/8c ONLY on AXS TV!
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