“And Your Bird Can Sing” is a song by the Beatles, released on their 1966 album Revolver in the United Kingdom and on Yesterday and Today in the United States. The song was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Paul McCartney stated that he helped on the lyrics and attributed the song “80–20” to Lennon. The working title was “You Don’t Get Me”. Lennon was later dismissive of the track, as he was of many of his compositions at the time, referring to it as “another of my throwaways … fancy paper around an empty box”.
The song is memorable for its extended dual-guitar melody, played by George Harrison and Paul McCartney. A version of the track featuring Harrison on his Rickenbacker 360/12 12-string electric guitar was recorded on 20 April 1966 but was scrapped; the group recorded the regular, released version on 26 April. The rejected version, heard on the Anthology 2 album, features a vocal track on which Lennon and McCartney are giggling hysterically. The Anthology liner notes state that the tapes do not indicate the source of the laughter.
A few incidents have been suggested as inspirations for the song’s cryptic lyrics, which recall in tone those of “She Said She Said”:
In his 2007 book, Can’t Buy Me Love, Jonathan Gould claims that Lennon wrote the song in response to an official press release promoting a Frank Sinatra TV special as a show for those who were “tired of kid singers wearing mops of hair thick enough to hide a crate of melons”.
According to journalist Richard Simpson, Lennon wrote the song in response to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones boasting about his pop-star girlfriend (“bird” in English slang) Marianne Faithfull.
According to Rolling Stone, the line “You say you’ve seen seven wonders” could be a reference to a comment McCartney made in 1964 when the Beatles were smoking cannabis with Bob Dylan in New York. Under the effects of the drug, McCartney declared that he now knew the answer to the questions of existence, saying: “There are seven levels.”
“And Your Bird Can Sing” was used as the theme song of the Beatles’ cartoon series during its third season. The song is playable in the music video game The Beatles: Rock Band. In October 2008, Guitar World magazine ranked Harrison’s playing on the song at number 69 on its list of the “100 Greatest Guitar Solos”.
In 2006, Mojo placed “And Your Bird Can Sing” at number 41 on its list of “The 101 Greatest Beatles Songs”. In his commentary on the track, English academic Toby Litt identified it as “the birth of all powerpop, from Big Star through Cheap Trick to Fountains Of Wayne” and the inspiration for other artists that “use jangle to attack”. While recognising the song’s Indian drone quality and the raga influence in the guitar melody, he said that the riff was perhaps “the most baroque that pop music ever came up with”, adding: “Slow it down and it could be a Bach chorale.”
John Lennon – lead vocal, rhythm guitar, handclaps
Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass, lead guitar, handclaps
George Harrison – harmony vocal, lead guitar, handclaps
Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, handclaps