And Your Bird Can Sing
Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Chords/Tabs: And Your Bird Can Sing
Notes on "And Your Bird Can Sing" (AYBCS)
KEY E Major
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge ->
Verse (guitar solo) -> Bridge -> Verse ->
Verse (guitar solo) -> Outro (w/complete ending)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- This song may be most notable for its setting of an elegantly
classical/Baroque leitmotif in context of a proto-grunge and noisy
guitar mix but there's more to it than that.
- That opening riff would feel intrinsically Baroque just by virtue of
its perpetual-motion-in-even-eighth-notes and its embellished scale-wise
melodic content. But the gesture is further intensified by Paul's
ocassionally walking bassline, and most of all, by the way that
the riff is cyclically repeated in the manner of a concerto grosso's
ritornello or a da capo aria's obbligato.
- The form, though essentially a two-bridge model with only one
verse separating the bridges, includes a repeat of the entire the
guitar solo verse section right before the outro.
- The lyrics are wordier than usual. Even though the title phrase
repeats in every verse, and the bridges have their own refrain,
every section opens differently, and this accentuates the ("... and
while I'm at it, let me tell you another thing ...") ranting feel
of the overall production.
Melody and Harmony
- The home key is a sunny E Major jazzed up by those pentatonic
touches so characteristic of John. In the tune, I'm thinking of
the motif that goes with the phrase, "but you don't get me." In
the guitar hook, look to the last measure of the intro. In context
of the otherwise Baroque nature of this hook, that syncopated lick
at the end is ironic sounding.
- The other device much favored by John to be found here is the
chromatically descending bassline in the bridge. Yes, Paul
liked to use it too, but our current example reminds me most
of I'll Be Back."
- Lewisohn is surprisingly silent on the question of how the backing
instrumental for this song was put together, leaving us to puzzle
over, in particular, how many over-dubbed guitars participate in
the lead part, which in the bridge sounds like *at least* two,
to me; the final scale sounds like parallel sixths or tenths,
which I imagine would be difficult to execute so cleanly, and
legato, on a single axe.
- John's lead vocal sounds like it is artificially double-tracked
the two results cleanly mixed left and right as single track vocals.
I don't think it's possible to get "real" double tracking this
tightly synched, and besides, the type of mix we have here provides
a unique effect of its own.
- We find the usual extra amount of production values lavished on
the details; this, in spite of the intentionally "dirty" sound
quality -- actually, the latter might be ironically described as
very much one of those carefully sweated details :-) Others
- the use of backing vocals for bold/italic emphasis,
and the break in this pattern for the final verse
where they accompany the entire first phrase
- the guitar lick between the first two verses, and
its lick-like arpeggios during the bridges
- the careful patterns played by the auxiliary percussion such
as tambourine in the verse and (yes, again) hand claps in the
- ... and speaking of that final verse, there's John's vulnerable
striving to add a little trill on the phrase "get me" way out
on the edge of his range.
You never really become conscious of this stuff unless you obsessively
go after it, but *someone* did go out of their way to put it there, and,
after all, an exceedingly tedious neighbor of mine once conered me to let
me know that it is just this lonesome, solitary discovery of such things
at wee hours of the night in the bowels of the library's stacks that
makes "Scholarship" the exciting profession that it is; and be forewarned,
he told me :-)
- The rhythmic pulse of the backing track is curiously clunky, with
the syncopation coming primarily from the guitar lick and vocals in
- The intro is four measures long and utilizes a single chord, over
which we hear the guitar riff for the first time.
- Following the basic principle of not shooting your whole wad straight
out of the box, they give us only what turns out to be the first half
of the solo; saving the climactic second half for later.
- The verse is eight measures long and has a 4+4/AB phrase structure
that is articulated, in part, by a difference in harmonic rhythm
between the phrases:
|E |- |- |- |f# |A |E |- |
E: I ii IV I
- The harmonic shape of this section is "closed" (opens and closes
on the I chord). The home key is established here by the plagal
IV chord, with the dominant V saved for the bridge.
- In order to fill out the full eight measures of the verse, the
guitar solo sections extend the lick used in the outro with a
dramatic down-and-back-up-again scale passage.
- Note *carefully* how the harmony for the guitar solo verses replaces
the IV chord of measure 6 with a V chord. It's not just that IV clashes
with the melodic content of the solo; I think it's also a matter of
wanting the solo to convey the stronger sense of climax provided
- Harmonically, the bridge fakes us out for a moment, as though it
were going to modulate to the key of g# minor. Ironically, the
downward chromatic scale leisurely played out over the first
four measures of this section takes us straight back to the
home key. This scenario, in which initial resolve to move
elsewhere is belied by the inertia to stay at home, is uncannily
in synch with the song's subtext; see "Final Comments" below.
chords: |g# | |- |- |E |f# |- |B |
bass: |G# |G-nat. |F# |F-nat. |E
iii I ii V
- The outro is crafted out of a ready-steady-go repetition of the
obbligato's opening. The coup de grace here is the surprise ending
on an A Major IV chord, in the 6/4 (aka "second") inversion, no less!
- The very next song on the album,
"For No One,"
also ends inconclusively,
though it chooses to end on V instead of IV. In the case of
"For No One,",
you can at least rationalize that the V chord ending fits smoothly within
the overall flow of the song, where each refrain leads back to a verse by
virtue of that V chord. The IV6/4 ending here, though, is generally a
much less common ending than V, and in context of the rest of this song,
it seems an unprecedented surprise. This, like the abandoned modulation
of the bridge, is another one of these details of the song's "internal
design" that resonates with the songs inner meanings.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- Shall I stay within the comfort of where I am, or do I have the
guts do go where I should be ? (Do I dare eat a peach? :-)) And
which choice is the "right" one ? Going out on a very personal limb
here, for a change, I'm not sure that "And Your Bird Can Sing" discloses
its innermost secrets until you've both sat within the sanctum of your
own livingroom making special plans with one individual, only later to
be cornered in the last booth of the Chinese restaurant by someone else
to talk about new drapes for that same livingroom.
- Maureen Cleave's interview of John, published 3/4/66 in the London
Evening Standard, achieved international notoriety because of his
"we're more popular than Jesus" remark. But the overall portrait it
paints of the artist as he stands between _Rubber Soul_ and _Revolver_
is rather incredible for the hints of inner conflict and sad ambivalence
about materialistically excessive success which peep their way through
the haze in spite of, (or is that, *because of*), his stream of offhand,
calculatedly outrageous sound bites. "You see there's something else
I'm going to do; something I must do -- only I don't know what it is,"
- Today we call it Mid Life Crisis, and we expect it to happen around
the age of 41, or the environs. Goodness ... John was a tender
25, and was capable of articulating the excruciatingly impossible to
verbalize nature of it; and in music.
"Sex is the only physical thing I can be bothered with any more."
(the last time I had a belated message like
that I was having my eyes examined :-))
Copyright (c) 1995 by Alan W. Pollack
All Rights Reserved
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