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Blackbird (Woodstock 2012)


by

TobinMueller

 Genre: Acoustic

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Description
This is a cover of Paul McCartney's classic song "Blackbird" from the White Album. I obtained the rights to it before putting it on my latest album, Song of Myself. McCartney was inspired to write it while in Scotland as a reaction to racial tensions escalating in the United States in the spring of 1968. My arrangement also includes a short quote from Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock." It's kind of what made it so fitting for this year's version of MJ's Woodstock. (Sorry no downloads. Part of the license.)

In this arrangement, I wanted to never forget about those fragile wings, those free and joyous Blackbird wings. And never forget about the night, the all-encompassing night. And this moment. Arising. I hope you can see it, as well as hear it.

"Song of Myself" is a collection of my favorite cover songs, just me at my piano. It was a struggle to make, since I had to wait about 2 weeks between recordings because they would take so much out of me. You can read more about it on my website project page www.tobinmueller.com/solo/ or on the CDBaby sell page: Song of Myself. My website project page includes song notes and lyrics (some with changes) to each track.

There is one more connection between the idea of Woodstock and my album: Every year friends of mine from Westport CT hold a Backyard Woodstock at there home. All their musician friends come jam for the day and night. Last year, I was preparing to cover Paul Simon's 1973 masterpiece "American Tune," a song most of my friends had never heard, at the event, as well as play along with several others. It would've been the first time I had "performed" since contracting A1AD and dropping out of all gigs and stress. As life would have it, I got a collapsed lung rehearsing and couldn't perform. It took longer than usual to recover. But I eventually recorded my version in my home. Along with Oh Danny Boy, it became one of the songs that convinced me to come out with an album of my favorite covers.

Sorry I haven't been around MJ much these past years. Loosing one's powers has unexpected consequences. I hope to find myself here more, in time.

For more regarding "Song of Myself," please see the project page on my website: http://www.tobinmueller.com/solo/

Other draft tracks from "Song of Myself" shared on MacJams include:
Dignity (by Bob Dylan)
Blackbird (by Paul McCartney)
Blue Tattoos (based on songs by Joni Mitchell)
Frozen Man (by James Taylor)
I Have Been Deceived (based on songs by Elton John/Bernie Taupin)
American Tune (by Paul Simon)
Oh Danny Boy (traditional)
No Place Like Home (a duet: piano/soprano sax)
Before There Were Gods (with Michael Hedges)
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Lyrics
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly
Blackbird fly
(All your life)
Into to light of the dark black night

*We are stardust
*We are golden
*And we have to get ourselves back (this moment)
*To the garden
Black bird fly...

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

...into to light of the dark black night

- lyrics by Paul McCartney
*from WOODSTOCK by Joni Mitchell
Song Stats
Hits: 3170
Comments: 42
Fans: 28
Plays: 165
Downloads: 0

Uploaded: Aug 10, 2012 - 10:58:57 AM
Last Updated: Aug 08, 2013 - 10:50:27 AM Last Played: Sep 03, 2017 - 02:04:56 PM
Song License
Creative Commons License:
Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial

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Comments
tokai said 1950 days ago (August 10th, 2012)
Blackbird
Beautifully played piano with a unique take on the vocal. Amazing how such a minimal arrangement has so much depth and quality. The magic is still there.
Check out my latest song called sleeper
TobinMueller said 1949 days ago (August 11th, 2012)
The magic is still there
Thanks. One of the good things about having to wait so long between recordings was that I had a lot of time to consider different ideas in my arrangements. I tried to put something new and thought provoking, however, subtle, into each song. I appreciate your kind ears.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
paul f. page said 1950 days ago (August 10th, 2012)
Piano work...
...is exquisite, Tobin, especially in the first 1:30 of Blackbird. This such a beautifully poignant take on the original, one that really pulls meaning from the lyrics in a very special way. ... It is nice to hear you singing again, too. Your performance is so,well-considered, not just singing the notes, but, rather, understanding them completely. Beautiful work.
Check out my latest song called 185
TobinMueller said 1949 days ago (August 11th, 2012)
well-considered
Thank you, Paul. Yes, every note and every vocal phrases was well-considered on this song. With some of them, I had a structure but basically improvised the details. This one I scored out (in my head). Funny, how my head can only hold one song at a time now. Better than no song, tho! I love your comments. Thanks again.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
rok41 said 1950 days ago (August 10th, 2012)
Blackbird
Beautiful take on this timeless piece.
Check out my latest song called Kilimanjaro - 2017
TobinMueller said 1949 days ago (August 11th, 2012)
timeless piece
Thanks. It is usually covered by a fellow guitar player. I wanted to start from scratch, reconsider the whole thing from a piano perspective. Glad you enjoyed it.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
alackbass said 1950 days ago (August 10th, 2012)
Blackbird (Woodstock 2012)
Beautifully done. I like your take on the chords and the new harmonies you added. Not an easy song to cover considering the original is so iconic.
Check out my latest song called Mean Miss Teacher
TobinMueller said 1949 days ago (August 11th, 2012)
I like your take on the chords
Thanks. I worked on chord substitutions for all the songs I covered. One of the cool things about taking a well known piece is any changes automatically creates a sense of contrast to the original. Its like the first variation has already been played. I'm glad you liked what I did. Some of those transition chords took along time to satisfy me. I play myself into corners sometimes!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
SmokeyVW said 1949 days ago (August 10th, 2012)
very intimate
a great interpretation of a classic

i really liked the ref to CSNY midway - perfect

thank you
Check out my latest song called Tru Th
TobinMueller said 1946 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
CSNY
CSNY's cover of Joni Mitchell's Woodstock is one of the great transformations of all time. Who would've thought her rambling dreamscape song could've rock so hard? But some of the magic of those lines, "We are stardust. We are golden," got kind of lost in the fab beat and drive. I just thought it made a great dream parenthetical moment in the middle of the dark night in this song. Thanks for noting it.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
BirdmanWayne94 said 1949 days ago (August 10th, 2012)
It's sad...
... to hear about your lung problems but we're fortunate to hear the beautiful voice and work of yours. The lyric-addition that you made to Blackbird is pretty genius (as well as the rest of the "Song of Myself" songs, from what I read). It's really refreshing to listen to your work again.

One question, though (not a critique!): why is the vocal track a bit muddy? The piano backing sounds crystal clear but the voice sounds roughly-recorded. For an atmospheric purpose or recording difficulties?

Amazing work, all in all. And your CD is definitely something to check out! Props.
Check out my latest song called Groove #7 (SoloMe-o Challenge)
TobinMueller said 1946 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
Muddy Waters
Thanks for the concern and well wished. I love when someone pays special attention the the piano arrangements of these covers. It's my new hobby, as my brain turns to mush, to reinvigorate other people's lyrics, while finding a new voice for myself within them.

My voice is much breathier than it used to be. I'm closer to the mic and use a lot more more. My in breaths are sometimes labored (I don't even try to sing on days when they're too labored). And in the process of capturing the best takes, I ended up distorting and blowing air across the mic in annoying ways. Since my best mics were on the piano (in, under), I used my old saxophone mic for my vocals with no wind screen. I was trying for a live feel, a visceral memory of my actually breathing. Kind of a weird sort of metaphor. But I don't think I sound muddy. My voice often doesn't hit the center of the pitch, has a lot of grain in it, and sometimes a lot of moisture (phlegm?), but not much mud. I don't think. Truly, the piano is not nearly as clear as it sounds in the room. And my voice sound better than I think it actually comes out (after compression, etc). Mixing is such a sad science. I've given up. Just trying to capture a sense of intimacy. Anyway, thanks again for checking in and taking the time to listen to the other songs on the CD.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
bud said 1949 days ago (August 10th, 2012)
Great take on a classic
wonderfully poignant vocals and piano arrangement. Nice idea dropping Woodstock in there - it worked really well. Sorry to hear of the ongoing health struggle. Glad you are finding strength to carry on.
Check out my latest song called Oh Coast
TobinMueller said 1946 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
Thanks
I tried to personalize all the lyrics with subtle vocal changes. Definitely hit the long dark night in this one, not a line usually emphasized, or surer. But it made the transition into "We are stardust" more of a contrast, I think. It's my theatre experience that makes me think of certain moments within a song as "set up moments", not ends in themselves, so that other moments can take on heightened poignancy. I'm glad you noticed that.

And thanks for your struggles (and you son's) in the real world. Carry on!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
davisamerica said 1949 days ago (August 10th, 2012)
so it's sunset
...and a mellow mood drifts from the stage... it is a stop and breathe moment.... it is magical... dig this take Tobin. Really glad u made it.
Check out my latest song called ok char2(Vic and Flatrock mix)
TobinMueller said 1946 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
sunset
Thanks for putting me on stage as the sun is setting. Perfect.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
B. Flat said 1949 days ago (August 10th, 2012)
Very
original version, Tobin. Heartfelt. Thank you for this!
Check out my latest song called Dreaming (Woodstock 2012)
TobinMueller said 1946 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
Heartfelt
You are welcome. I've found that the emotional quality of heartfelt singing is one of the hardest things to do, now. When I nearly cry, when I summon deep emotions, my respiratory system begins to swell. If I break into a full weep, I can induce pneumonia-like symptoms in less than 20 minutes. One of the problems of the lack of A1AT proteins in my system. Also one of the reasons it takes so long to recover between recording sessions. Paul McCartney sings very straight. Singing it with full personalized emotion was one of the ways I was offering a new version. Also, I wanted to make this personal, own it. Thanks for listening for that.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Philip18 said 1949 days ago (August 10th, 2012)
Blackbird
Beautiful piano playing, emotive vocal. Delightful.
Check out my latest song called Silk and Honey
TobinMueller said 1946 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
Blackbird
Thanks. You know, I was on stage with Richie Havens in 1994 ('93?). The best acoustic guitar strummer ever. And a man totally lost in his musical journey. (He needs a handler just to point him to the car.) Like an angel wandering between musical pronouncements. I truly appreciated your version of Motherless Child. Really nice. Man, I wish I could sing like you...
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Moviz said 1948 days ago (August 11th, 2012)
So glad
you're managing to perform (sing) again Tobin....... this is so full of feeling and expression.... wonderful performance.... regards M
Check out my latest song called Angels
TobinMueller said 1946 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
Glad
Thank you. There is something freeing about singing when you feel like you can't sing as well. For me, I don't try and do anything except tell the story. To use the imperfections and limitations. I enjoyed developing these covers very much, at least as much as writing my own stuff from scratch. No less work, for sure! Glad the internal experience translated across the miles to you...
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
FEEL said 1948 days ago (August 12th, 2012)
Nice cover
Has a mystic quality to it. I don't recall a sung version of this song accompanied by a piano before. Nice improvisation through out. I have played around quite a bit with this song and never really knew the history behind it so thanks for sharing.
Check out my latest song called Crazy Clown Dreamer w/sammydix
TobinMueller said 1946 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
mystic quality
How cool. I like that, "mystic quality." When I first read it, I saw "musical quality" as if this was a song from one of my musicals. And I thought, how right he is! But then I reread and saw your words were even cooler. Thanks. I was trying for that, really.

I know what you mean about never hearing a piano version of this before. It took me a bit to shed the notes normally played on guitar, mimicking McCartney's iconic fingering. I improvised a bunch of bird-in-flight lines, most of which got in the way of the vocals, before I came up with this version. Now, when I relisten, I don't hear McCartney's guitar at all anymore. One of my goals.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
I.G.M. said 1946 days ago (August 13th, 2012)
Two of my all-time favourites
and you take them to a different place, give us a different view. Thx for that.
It`s strange to listen to these well known songs with a straight expectation and suddenly feel that all musical concepts are just like stardust:
Born and gone in the same second...
Check out my latest song called Reflexions
TobinMueller said 1946 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
Born and gone in the same second...
Poetically said. Thanks. Well appreciated.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Doadars Uncle said 1946 days ago (August 13th, 2012)
Nice angle
Full felt. I like how you open it up and lay it out.
Check out my latest song called Don't Leave (remix)
TobinMueller said 1946 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
Full felt
Thanks. I like the way you put it, how I opened it up. Makes me feel good. Thanks.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Vic Holman said 1945 days ago (August 14th, 2012)
fingers crossed
tried listening to this a few times a few days ago and the site kept freezing up. ha!

this is a unique approach. cool piano arrangement. throwing in the csn&y clip was cool, didn't see that one coming.......nice!
Check out my latest song called For You To Decide
TobinMueller said 1943 days ago (August 17th, 2012)
cool piano
Thanks. One of the reasons I like to share on MJ is that players here listen for the playing, passed the singing. I appreciate that. Glad the site stopped freezing. Certainly n contrast to August's weather!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
J_Gretch said 1945 days ago (August 15th, 2012)
Blackbird (Woodstock 2012)
Caught me totally off guard.In a good way.Would never have expected this version.Thanks for sharing you talent with us.
Check out my latest song called Only what you feel
TobinMueller said 1943 days ago (August 17th, 2012)
En garde!
Glad I surprised you. That made me happy. Thanks for listening and hearing al the differences.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
J.A.Stewart said 1943 days ago (August 17th, 2012)
Impressive Amalgam
Elements of your jazz and theatrical background are evident in this dramatic and heartfelt interpretation, Tobin. It takes a very unexpected flight path, one that is far away from the sweet and simple McCartney version, but one that conveys far more emotion than the original, as well.

Given your ailment, it's an amazing vocal performance and I'm glad to hear that you can perform at all. I know from my own experience how deflating it can be when you suddenly can't do what you love to do. Keep getting better, my friend. ;)


--- Joe
Check out my latest song called Crankenhurst Challenge - Verse 1-7 (Inst. Break)
TobinMueller said 1943 days ago (August 17th, 2012)
jazz and theatre ballad
I really enjoyed reading your comments. I love it when I do something that combines the different (and never unconnected) aspects of my musical experiences and loves. But I was reared on Joni Mitchell and George Gershwin and Chick Corea and Keith Emerson and others that always combined elements from differing genres.

You can hear the labors mainly in the inhales. And the coughing spams on the outtake floor. It's always surprising to me when I really open up how strong my voice can be, but it only lasts 3-4 takes and sometimes causes negative reactions that I deal with for yours/days following. But its worth it. I'm racing against time to get some of these things recorded.

Thanks for hearing them music and the backstory, both. I thinks it's something that adds to the lyrics/songs. I've picked songs just so that can happen. Much appreciated.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
tf10music said 1943 days ago (August 17th, 2012)
This is
the first piece like this I've ever heard from you, and I really like it. Your voice wavers so nicely, and the keys are so fluid. Really excellent.
Check out my latest song called If The Body Fades
TobinMueller said 1939 days ago (August 21st, 2012)
An intimate window
Thanks. In many ways, this is a window into my private life. After dinner, I rarely play my own music, which usually do most of the day. After dinner, when I feel up to it and am so moved, I sit at the piano and play songs from songbooks and musical scores. This is, for the most part, the only music my wife hears me play. I rath enjoy sharing it with everyone now. Its a big part of what goes on in my head...
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
tonestones said 1942 days ago (August 17th, 2012)
magic
Tobin, this is wonderful. I love the chord choices and the vocal and piano performance. Excellent.
Check out my latest song called Stairway to Heaven (LZ Cover)
TobinMueller said 1939 days ago (August 21st, 2012)
Chord choices
Thanks. I have to send you CD. (Any one else should just ask. I have a few promo,copies left...)
Hope all is well with you.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
dave_b said 1939 days ago (August 20th, 2012)
Blackbird (Woodstock 2012)
I enjoyed your original take on this classic which is one of my favorites. Very tasty chord voicings!
Check out my latest song called Llarions Blues
TobinMueller said 1939 days ago (August 21st, 2012)
Voicings
Thabks. Usually, when I begin improvising ideas for an arrangement, I don't worry about chord voicings, only chord choices and substitutions. After I settling in on the progressions and variations, I figure out the fingering and voicings. I appreciate you noticing them. I sometimes spend an inordinate amount of time figuring them out.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Maximum_Lux said 1725 days ago (March 23rd, 2013)
Nice cover!
Love this song! Nice original take on it. Who doesn't like Paul McCartney, right?
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TobinMueller said 1645 days ago (June 11th, 2013)
Who doesn't like Paul McCartney, right?
Right!

(Except, maybe, Yoko...)
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Artist Info
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Name: Tobin Mueller
Location: Rowayton CT USA
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I am a professional musician, composer, playwright and director. I've led a charmed life. I'm married to fellow MJer Suzanne and MJer Twonicus is my son, who currently sings and writes for rock bands in the NYC, D.C. and Cleveland areas. My second s... [see more]

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