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Blackbird Fly: Paul McCartney's Legend, Billy Preston's Gospel, and Lead Belly's Blues

Blackbird Fly: Paul McCartney's Legend, Billy Preston's Gospel, and Lead Belly's... <p>ABSTRACT:</p><p>This article explores the historical context, inspirations, and legacy of Paul McCartney&apos;s 1968 <i>White Album</i> song, "Blackbird." We discover heretofore unexplored connections to the 1926 pop standard, "Bye Bye Blackbird," as well as the potential for the Beatles&apos; song to house a civil rights message, the nest McCartney tries to build for "Blackbird" in this century. To appreciate the song&apos;s availability for civil rights solidarity, we consider Billy Preston, whose cover aligns "Blackbird" with African American culture during the decades in which McCartney was not telling his "Blackbird" legend. Preston&apos;s gospel-infused cover, along with his own bird imagery in "Will It Go Round in Circles," point toward the theme of flight-as-liberation in African American arts. This bird-theme is also exemplified by the folk ballad "Grey Goose," famously performed and recorded by Lead Belly, a formative influence on the so-called British Invasion rockers. These connections reveal a thematic and political depth to "Blackbird," illustrating the song&apos;s indebtedness to African American music and other arts.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Interdisciplinary Literary Studies Penn State University Press

Blackbird Fly: Paul McCartney&apos;s Legend, Billy Preston&apos;s Gospel, and Lead Belly&apos;s Blues

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
Copyright
Copyright © The Pennsylvania State University.
ISSN
2161-427X

Abstract

<p>ABSTRACT:</p><p>This article explores the historical context, inspirations, and legacy of Paul McCartney&apos;s 1968 <i>White Album</i> song, "Blackbird." We discover heretofore unexplored connections to the 1926 pop standard, "Bye Bye Blackbird," as well as the potential for the Beatles&apos; song to house a civil rights message, the nest McCartney tries to build for "Blackbird" in this century. To appreciate the song&apos;s availability for civil rights solidarity, we consider Billy Preston, whose cover aligns "Blackbird" with African American culture during the decades in which McCartney was not telling his "Blackbird" legend. Preston&apos;s gospel-infused cover, along with his own bird imagery in "Will It Go Round in Circles," point toward the theme of flight-as-liberation in African American arts. This bird-theme is also exemplified by the folk ballad "Grey Goose," famously performed and recorded by Lead Belly, a formative influence on the so-called British Invasion rockers. These connections reveal a thematic and political depth to "Blackbird," illustrating the song&apos;s indebtedness to African American music and other arts.</p>

Journal

Interdisciplinary Literary StudiesPenn State University Press

Published: Sep 4, 2020

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