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Song Of The week - And Your Bird Can Sing

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You tell me that you've got everything you want
And your bird can sing
But you don't get me, you don't get me

You say you've seen seven wonders and your bird is green
But you can't see me, you can't see me

When your prized possessions start to wear you down
Look in my direction, I'll be round, I'll be round

When your bird is broken will it bring you down
You may be awoken, I'll be round, I'll be round

You 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

While most American Beatles enthusiasts became familiar with “And Your Bird Can Sing” from its inclusion on the multi-million selling album “Yesterday…And Today,” younger fans undoubtedly got to know it from its prominent use on The Beatles Cartoon series.  The song was used as the theme of the TV series during its 1967 season which featured animated shots of the group interspersed with actual 1967 still photos of the individual group members.

Although this young audience couldn’t make heads or tails of the lyrics, neither could fans of any age.  It was, instead, the irresistible musical interplay of the guitar work and the harmonic vocal texture that became its attractive focal point.  As the book “The Complete Guide To The Music Of The Beatles” suggests, “The track may have been fancy paper ‘round an empty box, but the package sounded so good that no-one cared.”

The best way to decipher some substance to “And Your Bird Can Sing,” I feel, is to examine where John’s head was at during the time the song was written.  On March 4th, 1966, a journalist friend of the Lennon’s, Maureen Cleave, conducted an interview with the Beatle which was first published in the “London Evening Standard.”  While John’s comment in this article about the Beatles being “more popular than Jesus” is what caught the most attention, his views on materialism was quite telling, the substance of which appears to rear its head into the song in question.

“Famous and loaded as I am,” John relates in this interview, “I still have to meet soft people.  It often comes into my mind that I’m not really rich.  There are really rich people but I don’t know where they are.”  The article also mentions many of John’s “prized possessions” that he has displayed in his Weybridge home, such as a suit of armor named “Sidney,” a room full of model racing cars that he’d lost interest in, a swimming pool, a Rolls Royce (with a television, folding bed, refrigerator and telephone installed inside), a huge alter crucifix, and a gorilla suit (“That’s the only suit that fits me”).  Maureen Cleave states in the article:  “One feels that his possessions – to which he adds daily – have got the upper hand.”

With this in mind, the lyrical content of “And Your Bird Can Sing” surprisingly becomes a little clearer.  Disguised as a love song, John addresses the well-to-do female in question with the statement “You tell me that you’ve got everything you want…”  And then, in a sarcastic or hyperbolic “all this and heaven too” tone, he continues “…and your bird can sing” as if to infer that there is nothing on this earth that she couldn’t acquire for herself.  His point is then made clear by stating “you don’t get me,” ‘getting’ referring to understanding.  In fact, the real life 1966 John Lennon was someone that most people didn’t “get.”  Maureen Cleave herself describes him in the above article as “unpredictable, indolent, disorganized, childish, vague, charming, and quick-witted.”

The second verse continues this same line of reasoning but this time focusing on what the girl had seen instead of gotten.  She had “seen seven wonders,” no doubt referring to the seven wonders of the world, then extravagantly and sarcastically continuing the statement with “…and your bird is green,” which probably is no more significant than the color green being something that also can be seen.  The thought is then appropriately concluded with “you can’t see me,” suggesting his being unattainable for her.

Putting things in a nutshell, the first bridge has John instructing her to look in his “direction” whenever her “prized possessions” begin to ‘weigh her down.’  “I’ll be ‘round,” he assures as a hopeful suitor would.  Then, in a perceived fit of silliness (or drug influence, or both), the second bridge goes way off the beaten path by referring to her bird being “broken” and then being “awoken,” which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with anything.  Unpredictable indeed.

The last verse continues the pattern of the first two but this time in the category of hearing.  The woman has “heard every sound there is” but she can’t “hear” John.  Curiously, the current hyperbolic reference to the bird shows that it “can swing,” possibly a reference to dancing to music.  Or maybe just another case of silliness.  Maybe these lyrics are the reason why John and Paul fell into a fit of laughter during the recording of the first recorded version of the song.

One thing we can note with certainty is that the title phrase “and your bird can sing” actually only appears once in the song, which is in the first verse.  Soon there will come a time when Beatles songs won’t have the title in the lyrics at all, such as “Yer Blues,” “Old Brown Shoe” and “For You Blue.”


John Lennon - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar (1965 Epiphone 230TD Casino), tambourine, handclaps
Paul McCartney - Bass Guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), Lead Guitar (1962 Epiphone 230TD Casino) Harmony Vocals, handclaps
George Harrison –  Lead Guitar (1965 Epiphone 230TD Casino), Harmony Vocals, handclaps
Ringo Starr –  Drums (1964 Ludwig Super Classic Black Oyster Pearl), handclaps 

Written and compiled by Dave Rybaczewski

Always liked it. Great John rocker. Everybody was in top form for that song.

Hello Goodbye:
I'm one of those who first heard And Your Bird Can Sing on the Yesterday…And Today LP.  A year later, it was the theme for the Saturday morning Beatles cartoon TV show, then in its third (and final) season (1967-8)...

Beatles Cartoon Opening

Yes, I used to watch those cartoons every Saturday morning for the three years I was in high school.  I was not to be disturbed!  :)

So of course I like this song.  When I studied guitar a few years later, I realized why this song sounded so good and why I liked it so much.  There was some superb dual guitar harmony played by George and Paul on this song.  Rob Taylor, in his Beatles To A Tee instructional video series, shows how this was done...

The Beatles - And Your Bird Can Sing (Beatles To A Tee)

Beautiful, huh?

I even like the early version, with the laughs...

And Your Bird Can Sing // Anthology 2 // Disc 1 // Track 19 (Stereo)


Love those duelling guitars Baz :)

I wonder how they came up with that fantastic Riff ?

sounds like they'd been on the whacky Bakky on the anthology :D

Hello Goodbye:

--- Quote from: nimrod on June 11, 2013, 02:25:19 AM ---Love those duelling guitars Baz :)

I wonder how they came up with that fantastic Riff ?

--- End quote ---

That's the genius of John, Paul and George right there, Kev.

--- Quote from: nimrod on June 11, 2013, 02:25:19 AM ---sounds like they'd been on the whacky Bakky on the anthology :D

--- End quote ---

I'd say so!   ;D


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