Female Blackbird
Female Blackbird

Well, here’s a brown bird, if ever we saw one. But I’m pretty sure it’s a Blackbird – no colour prejudice intended. I’ve had a look on the RSPB web site and they seem to think that there is definitely a chance that I’m possibly right. Blackbirds, they say, come in various colours. This one is most likely a female – no, I’m not saying that just because she wants to be different – female blackbirds are notorious for being different. The black plumage and yellow beak is quite often, although not always, the favourite outfit of the males. Now and then though you will find a Woman in Black – a sort of avian cross-dresser.

Blackbirds are used to controversy. The well known jazz standard ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’, written in 1926 by  Ray Henderson and lyricist Mort Dixon has lyrics that have generated much speculation about their meaning – with possible interpretations ranging from slavery through to prostitution. This confusion is mainly due to the change in popular music style.

Around the 1920s most pop tunes had a semi-spoken introduction, known as ‘the verse’, followed by the catchy melody of ‘the chorus’. By the 40s spoken verses were out, and so the later versions of Bye Bye Blackbird dropped the verse and only performed the chorus.

Once you read the entire lyrics, as they were originally written, the whole uncertainty about their meaning vanishes – see here.


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