Common Place Book #6

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly”

– “Blackbird” The Beatles

I have found that some of the best poets happen to be song writers. In all honesty, that seems to be what Bob Dylan is, a poet. Another poet making music during the sixties was a man by the name of Paul McCartney. In 1968, Paul McCartney wrote a very simple song that went by the name of “Blackbird.” The Blackbird sung about in McCartney’s “Blackbird” was no bird, in fact, it was an African American woman. His song was meant to inspire hope. Hope in that one day the wings broken by racism and oppression will fly again. I find the first line of the song quite moving. “Blackbird singing in the dead of night.” It cause the listener to feel an almost indescribable feeling. Or at least it causes me this. I have been having trouble putting this feeling to words, and I have been thinking about this for a while. There is just something about the image of a bird singing in the dead of night. Most people imagine birds singing in the morning, bringing in happiness. But this bird is singing in the dead of night, singing in the darkest of times. Despite the dark, this bird is still singing. Despite the broken wings, this bird is still learning to fly. It provides a sense of empowerment. Despite the oppression and racism, the black woman that Paul McCartney is singing about still has hope and the ability to bring happiness, even in the dead of night.

Much of the rhetorical power behind this song comes from the time at which it was made. 1968 was still in the heat of the civil rights movement. Had this song truly been about a blackbird, then there would not be much significance to it. Even though Paul McCartney was touching upon the issue of racism, he did it in a ver discrete way. It is very easy to simply think he is singing about a bird. Many people also believed that the song was about death. By making the meaning of the song almost hidden, Paul McCartney was able to prevent the Beatles from loosing fans who were against the civil rights movement. It allowed him to make a song about a sadly controversial topic somewhat uncontroversial.

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