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The man and the people of the hour.*

I can’t count the number of times I sang, Blackbird, on stage. It’s true to say I can’t remember many times I played for people over twenty years and didn’t perform this song. It’s a wonderful piece as the chords use nearly the entire neck of the guitar, impressive for anyone to veiw, and offers times to ding harmonics off the frets to show off a bit. Playing this song for practice or to warm up, or with friends for fun—heck, it was routine.

I’m about 14 in this shot and started to play several years earlier.

Soon, I was playing, Blackbird. Here’s McCartney singing this song about 30 years after he first performed it.

I never knew during all those years the true history of this, Blackbird, song. No, not at all.

I’d learned how to whistle the call of the red-winged blackbird while fishing as a kid on Lake Bonaparte, NY. I loved to float mid-day among the tall grass and reeds that grow along the shoreline of Mud Lake (a fishing spot on Lake Bonaparte).

Fishin’ in Mud Lake up at Lake Bonaparte with grandchildren.

Mud Lake.

I love the dark or tan beige colors of late summer grasses just before the leaves turn, and no where could the flashy red feathers of a red-winged blackbird be more noticeable to the eye.

NestWatch | Red-winged Blackbird - NestWatch

“Hello, my fine friend! Have you come to watch me fish again?” Speaking to nature has always been my way.

The birds would fly past and land effortlessly upon the tips of the twigs or tuffs of grass and, soon enough, they’d call their song across the blue sparkling water to the sky above. Their appearance always brought McCartney’s song, Blackbird, to mind. I often wondered how he’d come to write about this particular bird when there are so many other birds he might have selected? What a choice it was! The song and the red-winged Blackbirds so impressed me I added two separate whistling moments to imitate those bird calls while doing this piece on stage just to put some zing in the tune.

To me, Lake Bonaparte puts a bit of pizzazz into anyone’s life who gets to see it’s daily splendor. I think everyone who gets to enjoy Lake Bonaparte likes to carry a little bit of this pizzazz as they go about their daily lives.

And then, come the nights.

Leaving Mud Lake just before dark has a way of speaking back to anyone who might listen.  Life does have a way of starting dialogues and I still speak with nature and those Blackbirds when I can.

To think: I never once knew.  I never once suspected the ‘Blackbird,’ McCartney sang about wasn’t a bird at all!

No, not a bird at all.

Below is a shortened version of a post I clipped from FB today…it’s a remarkable story.

“Paul McCartney was visiting America….

He also remembered watching television and following the news in America, the race riots and what was happening in Little Rock, Arkansas, what was going on in the Civil Rights movement. He saw the picture of 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford attempt to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School as an angry mob followed her, yelling, “Drag her over this tree! Let’s take care of that n**ger!'” and “Lynch her! Lynch her!” “No n**ger b*tch is going to get in our school!”

McCartney couldn’t believe this was happening in America. He thought of these women being mistreated, simply because of the color of her skin. He sat down and started writing.”

McCartney may have been about this old at the time.

“Last year at a concert, he would meet two of the women who inspired him to write one of his most memorable songs, Thelma Mothershed Wair and Elizabeth Eckford, members of the Little Rock Nine (first picture in this post).

He explained that when he started writing the song, he had in mind a black woman, but in England, “girls” were referred to as “birds.” And, so the song started:

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting
for this moment to arise.”

McCartney added that he and the Beatles cared passionately about the Civil Rights movement, “so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: ‘Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope.’ ”

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting
for this moment to be free.”

Paul, Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of England, is a better man than most of us knew, until now.

Now, I’ve a bit more to think about as I float by my dashy, red-winged Blackbird friends while up at the lake. I think we all do if you’re an American like me—we have to think about race and how it divides our country; we have to design a better society so we all might live and prosper.  Even the Blackbird loves to spread it’s wings and sing in the daylight and Paul McCartney knew this as a young man.  Every life has a song we should hear and enjoy.

Cheers

Franque23

*He saw the picture of 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford attempt to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School as an angry mob followed her, yelling, “Drag her over this tree! Let’s take care of that n**ger!'” and “Lynch her! Lynch her!” “No n**ger b*tch is going to get in our school!Last year at a concert, he would meet two of the women who inspired him to write one of his most memorable songs, Thelma Mothershed Wair and Elizabeth Eckford, members of the Little Rock Nine (pictured here).