Written during a holiday in Jamaica, ‘Bluebird’ continued the themes of personal emancipation explored by Paul McCartney on his 1968 song ‘Blackbird’.
McCartney used the flight of a bluebird as a metaphor for the power of love to set a person free from mental and physical constraints. Whereas ‘Blackbird’ had been written about the civil rights struggle in the United States, ‘Bluebird’ was more personal, and reflected his contentment with Linda McCartney and the stability after the dissolution of The Beatles’ business partnership.
Recording for ‘Bluebird’ began in Lagos, Nigeria, and the song was completed at George Martin’s AIR Studios in London. Coincidentally, the percussionist on the song was a Nigerian working in the English capital.
The only other musician on the album, other than the orchestra, is, funnily enough, African! We were gonna use African musicians, but when we were told we were about to pinch the music we thought ‘Well, up you, we’ll do it ourselves then, so there’s no question about it.’ Then we were back in London working at AIR Studios and this old friend from the past named Remi Kabaka turns up. And he’s from Lagos! He played on one of the tracks, he plays a bit of percussion on ‘Bluebird’, so he’s the only one who ended up doing anything on the album.
Paul McCartney In His Own Words, Paul Gambaccini
The other session musician on ‘Bluebird’ was saxophonist Howie Casey, who also performed on ‘Jet’ and ‘Mrs Vandebilt’. Casey was a former member of Liverpudlian band Derry And The Seniors, who The Beatles had known in their Cavern Club days.
‘Bluebird’ was the b-side of ‘Mrs Vandebilt’, a January 1974 single released in Australia and mainland Europe and Australia. The song was also performed by Wings throughout their 1975-76 tours.
What does the bit about “when we were told we were about to pinch the music” mean? I know the quote is at least 25 years old, but does anyone have any background on what he was talking about?