And Your Bird Can Sing - The Beatles

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"And Your Bird Can Sing" - The Beatles (1966)

There are two versions as to its inspiration and origins of “And Your Bird Can Sing.”

The first is that it was a response to a gift given to Lennon by his wife Cynthia of a mechanical bird in a gilded cage which horrified him.

The second one was that it was a roundabout way of poking fun at Frank Sinatra.

“Bird” was a favorite word Sinatra would often use. He often inquired of his cronies, “How’s your bird?”
One PR statement sent out by Sinatra read:

“If you happen to be tired of kid singers wearing mops of hair thick enough to hide a crate of melons... “Tell me that you’ve heard every sound there is ‘and your bird can swing’.”

“And Your Bird Can Sing” is best remembered for the dual harmony and guitar riff between Paul and George. It’s actually two guitars played in harmony, George taking the higher pitched notes and Paul the lower. McCartney also played bass, which was recorded on the backing track.

When asked in 2011 whether he or George played lead guitar on the track, McCartney replied:

“I think it’s me and George playing in harmony.”

“And Your Bird Can Sing" was a bridge between the two eras of the Beatles’ career. It is unabashedly a bouncy pop song, with an up-tempo beat and tight vocal harmonies. But it’s also adventurous with regal-sounding guitar riffs and esoteric lyrics. The sarcastic love lament is perfectly suited to the uptempo-led guitar riff.

The most spectacular part of the song is at the conclusion with the fanfare of circularity as the rapidly twirling carousel of McCartney and Harrison’s lead guitar duet gives way to a guivering bass finale that creates the effect of light glimmering off a revolving silver sphere. Ringo deliberately plays micro-seconds “too slow” to nail it all down.

Musicologist Tim Riley believes that “And Your Bird Can Sing” was about personal pretension- a shaded putdown song with lyrics that are patronizing and sympathetic. He comments on how after Lennon’s lead on every title line, the vocal harmonies that follow “add a shimmer to their pungency.”

Riley writes:

“The title line is mock singsongy, and Lennon’s voice stains on the word ‘me’ the implied rejection. His compassion is never far from his anger. No matter how much she possess she just doesn’t ‘get’ it.”

“And Your Bird Can Sing” can be interpreted as being about an appeal for communication, and in a sense, for sacrifice, since if you are to get, see and hear me you must be prepared to get priorities right, dispensing with possessions and self- interest. From the narrator’s perspective we learn that money can’t buy fun and happiness. Not only do we exhaust ourselves working to buy things, but our purchases don’t begin to compensate for what we surrender to obtain them. At that point our prized possessions begin to weigh us down.

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