Thursday, January 22, 2009

And Your Bird Can Sing

You know what's to love here? Freaking everything. Surely one of the great under-appreciated Beatles songs, "And Your Bird Can Sing" is a song I just like more and more each time I hear it. I don't remember ever calling it a favorite when I was a teenager, but somehow now it just gets me. Isn't it funny how a song like, say, "Tomorrow Never Knows" can sound almost dated now (though still fantastic), while "And Your Bird Can Sing" sounds fresher all the time?

This is from Revolver (unless you were an American fan and were forced to buy the odious Yesterday and Today, blech), which is frequently cited in the Beatle histories as the album in which the band just went REALLY off the charts, experimenting with all kinds of new sounds and experimental production stuff. I think mostly people are talking about songs like "Tomorrow Never Knows," as well as "Eleanor Rigby," "Love You To," "Yellow Submarine," and lots of others that played with all kinds of effects people maybe wouldn't have heard before. But perhaps less remembered is that the band also took the basic guitars-bass-drums setup that had worked so well for so long and stretched it out to near breaking--AGAIN-- such that songs like "And Your Bird Can Sing," not to mention "She Said She Said," "Taxman," etc., are some of their absolute greatest.

I'm digressing. Anyway, "And Your Bird Can Sing" boasts one of my favorite guitar bits by George, who utterly tears it up in the opening. The riff sounds aggressive and fuzzy and fun, like a giant musical pounce from a cat who just figured out that you're hiding the catnip in your hair. From there we rollick through John's verse, dig the nice little punches of 3-part harmony, and make it to the bridge, where George's guitar figure under the vocal just sets me off again. George is SO good on this song, you guys. Really. And then, dig the solo, in which the riff from the beginning is extended with the utmost elegance and raucousness to its natural conclusion, at which point we shift back to the bridge and onward. The guitar sounds so SUNNY in this song, doesn't it? There are elements of the guitar work here that remind me of some of the American garage band songs on Nuggets, but it still sounds unmistakably like the Beatles somehow, and I think it's that bright sound quality they always manage to get. They always seem to have more fun rocking out than anyone else does.

Vocally, it's fine work from John, who sings with a smirk that never veers too far into the realms of true mean-spiritedness.  As for the lyrics-- what do they mean? I don't think much, actually, though it's more than just stoner bluster-- I think it's John putting an In His Own Write sort of poem into song form, which he rarely did quite as purely and easily as here.

The phrase "perfect pop song" gets bandied around a lot talking about Beatles songs, and there are certainly several contenders for that title, but I nominate "And Your Bird Can Sing" as the Perfect Pop Song That Everyone Forgets Is So Perfect.

I think I need to go towel off.

"And Your Bird Can Sing," released in the U.K. side B track 2 of Revolver, August 5, 1966; in the U.S. side B track 1 of Yesterday and Today, June 20, 1966.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous

1 comment:

  1. Ooh! I think this song is deeply meaningful, really. I assume he's singing to a girl who's a little stuck-up; she's got everything she wants, her bird can sing, it's also green, which must have been rare in '60s London (or rhymed), she's traveled all over the world seeing the Seven Wonders .. and he's not attracted to her, it's made her unbearable, he's outta there. He warns her that having all the stuff she has is going to make her even sadder when she loses everything. That's when John'll show up again, although whether it's to be there for her or to be there to laugh at her is unknown.