Sunday, October 11, 2009

"And Your Bird Can Sing"

"And Your Bird Can Sing" is a song by the The Beatles, released on their 1966 album Revolver in the UK and on Yesterday...and Today in the U.S. The songwriting credit is Lennon/McCartney, though the song was written largely by John Lennon. The working title was "You Don't Get Me." Lennon was later dismissive of the song, referring to it as "another of my throwaways...fancy paper around an empty box."


The song, a hard-edged rocker, is memorable for its circular, dual-harmony guitar riff played by George Harrison and Paul McCartney.

A version of the song featuring George on his Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, was recorded on April 20, 1966, but this was scrapped and the group recorded the album version on April 26. This rejected version is heard on the Anthology 2 album, and features a vocal track in which Lennon and McCartney are giggling hysterically. The Anthology liner notes do not indicate why they are laughing, claiming that the tapes do not indicate the source of the laughter.

A number of incidents have been suggested to have been inspirations for the song's cryptic lyrics.

• One popular belief is that the song is a teasing jibe by Lennon at his friend Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, in reference to Jagger's pop star girlfriend ("bird" in British slang of the era) Marianne Faithfull.

• Prior to the Revolver sessions, Lennon had received a singing mechanical caged bird as a gift from his first wife Cynthia, which he took as a horrible metaphor of his unhappy marriage.

• While high on marijuana, McCartney had reportedly jotted down that the secret of life was in "seven levels" ("seven wonders" in the song), which later became a joke with the group.

• According to an unsourced claim by the author Jonathan Gould, in a 2007 book, Can't Buy Me Love, "bird" was a popular term that Frank Sinatra used to describe himself or others, and that Lennon wrote the song in response to an official press release promoting a Sinatra TV special as a show for those who were "tired of kid singers wearing mops of hair thick enough to hide a crate of melons." Without citing any source for his claim, Gould states that Lennon was also dismayed that Sinatra won Grammys for Best Album and Best Male Vocalist in 1965 over the Beatles' Rubber Soul, or Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited. Gould asserts that Lennon's lyrics "Tell me that you've heard every sound there is, and your bird can swing. But you can't hear me. You can't hear me." were a response. No Lennon biography or Lennon quotation is cited to substantiate Gould's theory.

* "And Your Bird Can Sing" was used as the theme song of the Beatles' cartoon series during its third season.


* John Lennon – lead vocal, rhythm guitar, handclaps
* Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass, lead guitar, handclaps
* George Harrison – harmony vocal, lead guitar, handclaps
* Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine


The popular Beatles-influenced band The Jam covered this song as a B-side. The Georgia-based college band Guadalcanal Diary also covered this song, released as a CD bonus track on their 1987 album 2X4. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs covered it on their 2006 album Under the Covers, Vol. 1. Jack Black used its opening riff for inspiration in a fight against Satan at each show of the Tenacious D 2006-2007 Tour. Les Fradkin has a snappy instrumental version on his 2005 CD "While My Guitar Only Plays".

Album: Revolver
Released: 5 August 1966
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, 20 April; 26 April 1966
Genre: Rock
Length: 2:01
Label: Parlophone
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


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