As British music enthusiasts, we are intimately familiar with almost the entirety of the Beatles back catalog. But there is one song that we return to every time, regardless of the mood we're in - happy, sad or hungover. That song is Blackbird, and although it might not be the most bombastic song that The Beatles ever made, it holds a special place in our heart for a few reasons.
Something that many people don't realise about this song is what it's actually about. We wanted to explore this in an article because when we discovered the meaning behind the song, it became even more special for us. Let's get into it:
What did McCartney say the song was about?
Paul McCartney was interviewed on KCRW in 2002, and had this to say about the song:
So, basically, Blackbird was inspired by the racial tensions that exploded in the US on spring 1968 as a symbolic way to support the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement.
McCartney underlined also that “bird” is a British slang often used for “girl”, which would make “blackbird” become “black girl”. This lexical escamotage combined with the events back in 1960s seem to refer to Rosa Parks, a black woman who, while on a bus, refused to give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled; she later become “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.
McCartney also used to read poems from a book called Blackbird Singing, which undoubtedly provided inspiration also.
What do we think the song is about?
Although we love McCartney's interpretation of the song and accept that he wrote the song so should be the authority on what it is about, we do think that he was writing about freedom as a concept more broadly. The song is so metaphorical that you could apply the lyrics to a variety of situations. One thing is for sure, it definitely isn't just about a blackbird.