There are very few songs released by The Beatles that they didn’t have to explain a few years down the line. That’s not because the group was always creating controversial tracks but because the clamour for knowing every intricate detail of the Fab Four’s process was a cacophony few publishers could avoid.
It means that the band’s principal songwriters, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, spent many years after the band split explaining their work. Paradoxically, this process didn’t always clear the clouds of confusion.
Many songs by The Beatles were written about the world around them.
After their meeting with Bob Dylan encouraged them to make pop music personal, the duo looked to the society around them and portrayed that world within their musical output. It means that many of the group’s songs were written about real people. From Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence, being the subject of ‘Dear Prudence’ to the song John Lennon wrote about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the band weren’t afraid of putting genuine people into their music.
Such a revelation naturally leads people to uncover the nugget at the core of every Beatles song. One track, however, has remained indecipherable, at least to any comprehensive extent. ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ is a song that many have tried to explain over the years. A huge chunk of the Beatles Army suggests the tune was an attack on Mick Jagger, claiming the “bird” in the title was a reference to Jagger’s then-girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull. However, others have pointed at another famous singer as the target of Lennon’s barbed bopper. That target was Frank Sinatra.
First thing’s first, we must reassure those fans of both Sinatra and Lennon that the latter wasn’t particularly a fan of ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’. In two separate interviews, Lennon slammed the song as “another of my throwaways” as well as calling it a “horror”. But that hasn’t stopped plenty of supporters pawing over the particulars of the track to true and find the source of the material.
As well as the theories around The Rolling Stones, some have pointed toward a Frank Sinatra profile published in Esquire back in 1966 as the instigating moment Lennon decided to write the song. Not only does Sinatra make a series of grotesque confirmations about his wealth and fame as well as referring to his penis as a “bird” throughout the interview. During the final verse, the group also change the lyric to “and your bird can swing”. It has led some musical historians to allude the song was pointed at the ‘Chairman of the Board’. However, those suggestions fall at one classic hurdle.
There’s not a chance in hell that Lennon would write such a barbed song for one of the most famous men in the world and not take the credit for it. The Liverpudlian has always been sure to share his inspirations behind songs, and the fact that he never dropped the famous name of Frank Sinatra is about all we need to confirm that ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ may have been written bout somebody, but it certainly wasn’t Sinatra.