Blackbird - Reviews

Quoted from Here, There and Everywhere: p.239-240

One by-product of Chris's being there as surrogate producer was that the Beatles - who clearly didn't like being in one another's company anymore - were able to split up into small groups, working simultaneously in two or even all three of the studios in the Abbey Road complex. This soon became standard operating procedure for much of the rest of the White Album. It was as if the four band members were so much in separate spaces personally, they wanted to make their record in separate spaces physically. On those evenings, I would normally work with Paul, because I had the best rapport with him. Another engineer would accompany John or George Harrison, with the taciturn (and rarely consulted) Ringo shuttling between studios as he was needed. That was the situation on the night that we worked on Paul's first contribution to the album, the poignant ballad "Blackbird."

Neither Ringo nor George was present on that particular evening, and John wanted to begin compiling sound effects for what would ultimately become "Revolution 9," so as soon he learned that another studio was available, decided to head off with Chris Thomas and Phil - accompanied, as usual, by Yoko. That left George Martin and me alone with Paul, which came as a blessed relief to me after all the stress of the preceding sessions; it always was a lot easier to deal with one Beatle.

Playing his left-handed acoustic guitar, Paul began running the song down, and I loved it immediately. Perfectionist that he was, he performed it over and over again, trying to get the complicated guitar part right all the way through. At one point a cameraman appeared to do a little filming for an Apple promo, and that interrupted the flow a little bit, but Paul just carried on, with his new lady friend sitting cross-legged at his feet. Paul had recently broken up with Jane Asher, and that might have been another reason why he was so subdued during the White Album sessions. Although she and Paul had once invited me over to their flat for dinner - I remember her making us orange soup, something I'd never had before. I suppose it's possible that Paul invited the girl along as an answer to John bringing in Yoko. But in contrast to Yoko, she didn't stay long, and George Martin had to leave early, too.

After they'd gone, Paul remarked to me that he wanted the track to sound if he was singing it outdoors. "Fine," I said, "then let's do it outdoors."
He looked surprised, but there was a little spot outside of the echo chamber with just enough room for him to sit on a stool. I ran a long mic lead out there and that's where we recorded "Blackbird". Most of the bird noises were dubbed on later, from a sound effects record, but a couple of them were live, sparrows and finches singing outside the Abbey Road studio on a soft summer eve along with Paul McCartney.

Posted: 20 sep 2009

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