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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

And Your Bird Can Sing

John Lennon could be brutal in his assessment of any piece of work, even his own, and he never had a good word to say about this composition when asked about it in later years, dismissing it on various occasions as a "horror" and a "throwaway."  It's difficult to understand those remarks, even if he was merely referring to the lyrics, which are a bit sloppy in places, especially in the use of the word "awoken" to force a rhyme.  Yet this is the same man who felt that Be-Bop-A-Lula was one of the best rock and roll songs ever written and who often stated that the overall sound of a recording was more important than the words.  Given those standards, And Your Bird Can Sing is a fine piece of work indeed, with its sonic wash of electric guitars and rich vocal harmonies.

The Beatles first recorded the song on April 20th, 1966 - only a few weeks into sessions for the album Revolver.  Right from the introduction, the two takes laid down on this date sound very much in the style of the Byrds, with double-tracked ringing guitars.  Take two, which can be heard on Anthology 2, was considered to be the master and given numerous overdubs.  While the version presented is most notable for the giggling hysterics of John and Paul as they attempt to add more vocals, this take is a great look into an alternate arrangement of the song.  The long, winding guitar riff is mostly set, but the placement of the third verse and the instrumental break is different, the first verse is repeated then followed by a break and a nifty bass run by Paul before the guitars return and the boys start whistling over an intended fadeout section.

Unhappy with this version for some reason (not, of course, for the giggling overdub which would naturally have been deleted), John decided that a remake was necessary.  Thus, on April 26th, they began anew at take three, laying down several attempts of a new arrangement.  Take ten proved to be the best (out of thirteen total) and overdubbing began.  The guitar riff is extended and even more strident here.  Whereas John and Paul sang the earlier version as a duet, John sings alone in most places now (though his voice is treated with ADT, artificial double tracking) and more forcefully throughout.  And the tempo is a bit slower yet still driving forward at all times.  This proved to be the master used on the US album "Yesterday"...and Today and the UK album Revolver.

Though the Beatles set out on one final tour after these sessions, neither this song nor any other song from Revolver was added to their live act. 

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