John Lennon: vocals, rhythm guitar, handclaps
Paul McCartney: backing vocals, lead guitar, bass, handclaps
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar, handclaps
Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine, handclaps
Written primarily by John Lennon, ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ is notable mainly for its cryptic lyrics and the twin guitar riffs – played by Paul McCartney and George Harrison – that drive the song.
While Lennon never revealed the inspiration behind the song, it is believed to refer to the rivalry between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Although the two groups were friends, Lennon saw the Stones as Beatles copyists, and the titular ‘bird’ may have been Marianne Faithfull.
Like ‘Rain’, ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ hinted at knowledge denied to all but the enlightened, showing the influence of LSD. It is also likely that the oblique lyrics were an attempt at writing something akin to the wordplay of Bob Dylan, whose songs Lennon greatly admired.
Lennon was later dismissive of ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’, describing it as “a horror” and “throwaway”. Paul McCartney claims to have helped Lennon write the song.
‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ was John’s song. I suspect that I helped with the verses because the songs were nearly always written without second and third verses. I seem to remember working on that middle eight with him but it’s John’s song, 80-20 to John.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ was the theme song for The Beatles’ US cartoon series during its third season.
In the studio
On 20 April 1966 The Beatles recorded two takes of ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’, beginning with a rhythm track of guitars and drums. They then overdubbed three lead vocal tracks from John Lennon, harmonies from Paul and George, and tambourine and bass.
This version of the song was rejected, but was eventually released – complete with hysterical laughter from John and Paul – on Anthology 2.
On 26 April 1966 they recorded takes 3-13, with take 10 being the best. To this they overdubbed vocals and further instrumentation, and the song was complete.
The ending of ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’, however, was from take six. The two takes were edited together on 12 May, when mono mixes were made. Stereo mixes were made on 20 May 1966. Further mono mixes and edits were made on 6 and 8 June.