Q&A BLACKBIRD: What is the story behind the song Blackbird by the Beatles?

TODD LOWERY (Arranged "The Complete Beatles" for publication at Hal Leonard LLC (1986))

“Blackbird” was written by and solely recorded by Paul McCartney.

The acoustic guitar part is based on “Bourree in E Minor” by J.S. Bach. Other than his voice and his Martin D-28 acoustic guitar, the only other sounds on the recording are subtle recordings of a blackbird singing and the sound of McCartney tapping his toe to keep time.

McCartney wrote the song in India while studying with the Maharishi. He used a finger-picking style that was taught to him there by the singer Donovan.

McCartney originally said he was inspired by hearing the call of a blackbird one morning in India.

However, McCartney stated on another occasion that he wrote the song in Scotland as a response to racial tensions in the U.S.

In May 2002, he said in a Dallas radio interview that the song was about black people’s civil rights struggles in the southern states in the U.S.

McCartney further elaborated in 2018 that a “blackbird” is a “black girl.”

So, no matter whether you interpret the song as a nature song that proclaims that you can arise to a higher level, or as a political civil rights struggle, it’s a great song.

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