Blackbird Fly


Little Rock Central High, 1957

[ed. note: updated September 17, 2011]

A search of Blackbird on YouTube turns up a lot of covers. Every day there are more. One singer prefaced his cover with an apology: There are more versions of “Blackbird” on YouTube than grains of sand on the beach, but he was going to sing it anyway.

I always liked “Blackbird,” but recent events make it even more relevant. Paul McCartney wrote the song in his kitchen in Scotland while watching racial tensions erupt in America. “Blackbird” was recorded just two months after Martin Luther King was killed.

~ ~ ~

My eclectic playlist of “Blackbird” covers on YouTube.

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About Quixotic Chick

I write. I take pictures. I survived cancer.
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21 Responses to Blackbird Fly

  1. Narciso Lobo says:

    Hi Donna. Thanks so much not for only featuring my humble video, but also for turning me on to the other wonderful Blackbird covers on the tube. I especially thank you for the Obama video with the original McCartney recording as the soundtrack. Beautiful.

  2. The thanks go to you. Yours (seeso) was one of my early favorites, but it had a lot of competition. I was up till 4 AM watching “Blackbird” videos! But your cover is such a soulful rendition that it easily made the cut. And I like the ukulele.

  3. SailorBrownie says:

    Hi Donna. I’m glad you enjoyed my video. I really got turned on to this song by listening to the version performed by the band Guess Who. I had no idea that the inspiration for this song was the civil rights movement, but for some reason the song and the Obama victory just inspired me to make this video! And these other renditions of the song are great. Thanks for adding my video to your blog.

  4. Sailor: Your video made me cry. :)

  5. Tabbie says:

    I love these “studies on a song” you have been publishing. Thank you!

  6. Thank you Tabbie. Since you’re a photographer, you may have noticed that the YouTube still from Sailor’s video echoes the Little Rock picture in composition. Only now there’s an American flag both serving as a “cape” and replacing the hecklers. I have no control over where YouTube takes a still. That was a happy accident.

  7. André Moura says:

    First of all, thanks a lot Donna! This one of my favorite song and i´m happy to know that you enjoyed! I´m from Brasil and see Obama win, was magic!!!
    one day a man had a dream and now that dream have a man!!!
    great tribute Donna!!!

  8. Hello Andre! I’m glad you found me. I noticed it had been a while since you logged into your YouTube account. (It’s been 7 months since salgadogaz (Chile) logged in, so who knows if we’ll hear from him?)

    Re Obama: Yes, I was following live reports from voters at the polls on election day on The Kansas City Star website. Many commented on the courtesy and high spirits. You’re right! One day a man had a dream and now the dream has a man.

    Thank you for your beautiful rendtition of “Blackbird” and for sharing it with the world.

  9. Re Hanaregumi’s animated video: At first I thought the images were merely fanciful (birds, children, clouds) but I did wonder why the (Japanese?) children were blond. Now I believe this video has the same civil-rights inference that Paul McCartney intended. At the end of the video, it would seem the blond children are enlightened by apples — from the Tree of Knowledge? I’m reaching. But then, I always do.

  10. brendan says:

    Donna, you made my year. I never thought someone would dig one of my covers. Thanks so much. I love your blog as well. Ill be visiting again!

  11. Jenee says:

    donna, you are so awesome.

  12. Marbilbo says:

    Dear Donna! Thx so much for featuring the cover of BLACK BIRD created and played by my very best friend Strato1963, that I posted in my canal some days ago. We both are from Spain, and happy, very happy for Obama’s victory. Lots of people in Europe are celebrating USA is changing and hope together we can create a better world. I will return to this blog, find it really interesting. Congrats!

  13. Hi Jenee! Thank you. :)

    Hi Marbilbo! I found your friend’s cover of “Blackbird” highly original and mesmerizing.

    Yes, we are thrilled about Obama. On election day I followed local voter updates on media sites, and people all over our city remarked on how polite everyone was at the polls, and how high spirits were.

    And that was before we knew the outcome. The New York Times had a “word train,” or running graphic, of one-word descriptions of people’s emotions. I entered “ecstatic.” At mid-day, for Obama supporters, ecstatic was in the smallest font, indicating the fewest people had used that word. By the end of the evening ecstatic was in the largest font.

  14. Susanne says:

    Soul stirring! Thanks Donna. In Dulles on way to BA. Interesting to discover what Portenos think about Obama.

  15. Jake says:


    SailorBrownie’s video made me cry too. Having been in Grant Park that night for Obama’s victory speech, the emotions often come rushing back when I see a presentation like that. Talk about ecstatic! What an incredible feeling to be there with people of every age, race, and social class celebrating together in unity!

    It wasn’t until the next day when I watched this AP video essay that I realized just want an incredible thing I had experienced:

    I appreciate the way you’re using YouTube videos like a DJ would make a mixtape. Moreover, it’s great to see all the feedback here from folks featured in those videos (Seeso: Love the ukulele work!).

  16. Jeremy Williams says:

    Wow. I am so honored that you featured my cover of this amazing song. I’m glad it meas as much to someone else as it does to me.

  17. And all of these guys are so talented. I am really humbled.

  18. Hi Jeremy. I love your cover. Every musician I featured gave Blackbird their own touch.

    Re humbled: I’m not even a musician, but I too am humbled by the enormous talent out there. But thanks to YouTube, we have a 24/7 international coffeehouse.

    In the words of a friend who had just downloaded the entire catalog of film composer Nino Rota: We live in an age of miracles.

  19. Purpleshoes says:

    There must be at least a thousand, maybe more covers of this song on youtube. So I really appreciate that you chose to put mine in with these brilliant ones here.
    Thank you for enjoying it :)

  20. Hi Purpleshoes. Thank you for your beautiful cover. As of today there are 1,600+ covers of Blackbird, and that’s just YouTube. Many are soulful but off key. Others are note perfect, but lack passion. I look for both.

  21. Gonza says:

    Thank you so so much Donna for featuring my cover!!!! Thanks!!! Means a lot to me :D

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