Blackbird - Finally!

Hi everyone - I’ve been working on this on and off for over 2 years at this point - which is 2/3 of the time I’ve been playing guitar at all! When I started it was my “bucket list” song for acoustic. I thought if I can actually play and sing this one I will have arrived. Since then my goals have broadened but I still consider this a bit of a holy grail milestone. Still working on keeping that tricky rhythm consistently - you can hear me chasing it a few times. It’s not ready for Abbey Road studios but I feel it’s finally at the point where I can consider it part of my “Repertoire” - which for me means it’s in my constant “polish and improve” rotation so I’ll keep revisiting it at least once a week to keep it sharp and get it better.


Great song, good go of it. All worked for me, though I would have to listen to the original. As it seemed to me some of the muting “might” be off a tad. Maybe not though…

One thing I might suggest. If you are going to use a click track I would put on cans or maybe use an earbud for it. That way it would not take away from your performance. I found it a tad annoying. Most folks don’t use an audible click that way. But to each his own and this is merely a suggestion.

All the best,

Well done Jesse, I enjoyed your version of Blackbird. I can empathise with spending 2 years working on it. It’s great that you have it in your repertoire and as you revisit it regularly over time you will become more fluid and confident performing it. Am guessing the click sound is to emulate the studio version? But no birdsong whistle? I found including a whistle was tricky not sounding like a Clanger. Great job :clap::clap::clap:Best wishes Alan

Very good Jesse!
I was down with the metronome in the background. If there was a song that the metronome beat was included, this would be the one, imho.
Real good pickin and singing.

Cool, now I’ve heard 2 versions by folks here. This one and @Alan_1970.

I still want to do this song too.
I’ve only been at it since Alan put his version up. So only a month or so.

Great listen.
Thanks for sharing.

Now I’m doubley inspired. :slight_smile:

I’m impressed that you can sing it while playing, it’s a tricky rhythm.

I am nowhere with finger picking, but this is a song I would like to learn at some point. Thank you for the inspiration.

Hello Jesse, and congratulations on getting this song ready for being part of your repertoire :clap::+1:.
While listening, I constantly wondered, how you where able to sing this song while playing this difficult rhythm :astonished:. This must have been very difficult. Very well done!

I was thinking the same. The click was quite distracting. But all the rest was very enjoyable :smiling_face:. Thanks a lot for sharing :hugs:.

Well done on finally being able to play and especially sing the song. I agree with LBro about the click track as i found it a little annoying as well

Thanks everyone for the kind works and suggetions. I went back and forth whether to make the metronome audible. I started using it with this song when I realized how far off my timing was - I would speed up and slow down the rhythm like crazy so more than probably any song I’ve learned this one has been about really working on the timing aspect, so to me the metronome is actually a pretty major part of the song.

Then I noticed on the original there’s some kind of woodblock or light clap that is keeping a very simple beat through the whole song so I thought it might help round out the sound a bit by including it.

Totally get it though that if you’re appraoching iit as a performance vs as a learning exercise, the metronome is distracting. At the end of the day I decided to include it to be a marker for me for how well I’m actually keeping the time. My goal is to keep working on it and get it to the point where I can nail the timing the whole way!

I shold retitle it “rhythm training” and maybe that will set expectations better :slight_smile:

There is another solution perhaps. I don’t know if you are recording with a phone that might prevent this. But if you have the capability, play to a drum track. Most will find that a welcome addition to the song and performance. Whereas the click track or “nome” is a negative thing to some folks.

If you do have a phone, but are liking the idea of using drums vs the nome. Then look online for an online drum machine. There used to be a great one called something like “beat-monkey”. However that was pulled down sadly.

Here is one online drum solution and it has an app for the phone as well. I have not tried it, just found it, but it might work.

I should mention that IMHO you should migrate away from the nome for timing and use drums. Why? Well for one reason they sound better. Another is you get used to getting in the groove and vibe of a song when syncing up to drums. Lastly, a nome will help somewhat in preparing you to play with a band. But drums is what that band will use. You may never aspire to play in a band, but practicing to a drum beat is more versatile, per my points.

Cheers and all the best,

Thanks LB - totally agree about practicing with a drum beat. That’s in fact my preferred method as well. The trouble with this song is it changes tempo a few times - starts in 3/4, then moves to 4/4, then 2/4, then 3/4 etc. works fine with a 2-beat drum (woodblock or metronome) but I couldn’t find any recorded drum beat that didn’t end up completely throwing the timing off. Could have used a recorded backing track specific to this song I suppose but as you hear on the original - it’s just a 2-beat drum/woodblock so basically sounds like a metronome anyway :upside_down_face:

I was interested to listen to your cover as Blackbird is a song I know and try to play myself.

I think your cover is really great and that you can sing at the same time is very cool and I think is inspiring, thank you for sharing, Susan

According to a source I read somewhere it’s not a metronome, it’s Paul’s foot tapping on the floor of the studio.
Well done with this classic Jesse. You’ve got it down pretty well and you’ll get it perfectly if you stick at it as you’ve been doing.

Huge thanks to everyone who’s commented - makes the work of practicing and recording just a bit more worth it!

And to follow up on the metronome - as @sairfingers note’s it’s most likely Paul tapping his feet while playing the main guitar and singing. Blows my mind that he can keep that changing time signature in what seems to be perfect time while singing and playing too. Truly phenomenal talent! Upon further listening to the original I realized the beat actually does change each time the time signature changes- does a quick hesitation/catch up depending on if its shifting from 3/4 to 4/4 or 4/4 to 2/4 etc. So my approach of just using a straight metronome isn’t really matching the rhythm as Paul wrote it - will look for an actual backing track to keep practicing with!

Quick note. Yeah, changing tempo’s can be a nightmare. However, if you were up to putting the time in. I think that link I posted to the drum machine might work. It seemed to have some capability in doing more complex patterns. But I am not sure, since I only glanced at it.

All the best,

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Hi Jesse, this is one of those songs that seems so difficult to me and I’m very impressed you can play and sing and keep time.

Well probably not, but you’re making it sound good and you can be very proud of it! That click…it helps so much, in my experience, I think we can allow ourselves to switch it off only when we feel more confident.

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Doing well with this song, Jesse, it is sounding pretty good already.

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Hi Jesse,
Great effort at a classic song that will keep giving the more you get into it.
You’ve obviously taken a deep dive into trying to understand the complexities and subtleties of the rhythms and timing.
If you haven’t watched Justin’s detailed and accurate lesson on this song over on the site, then you really must. It’s super helpful.
You are right that a click track or beat is not going to help you now. From here I reckon the way forward is to play along with the original, but using Transcribe or similar to slow it down to a speed where you can already really enjoy playing it, and then nudge the tempo up bit by bit when it’s time to move on

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Nicely done, Jesse! That’s a difficult song to play and sing at the same time, at least from where I sit! You have a very nice voice.

I had to chuckle at your saying you’ve been working on it on and off for several years. Every Christmas, for the past 4 years, I’ve tried spending a couple of weeks before Christmas to record the same Christmas song. I fell short again this year! Maybe next Christmas :wink:

It’s definitely one to keep working on to be a staple in your repertoire. Don’t let it get too stale, because if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to play if from memory off the bat!

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Really good job here @jestersea !! I remember looking at this song a while back and being like “this is going to take a lot of focus, time and energy”, and that is exactly what shows for you! It’s probably a song that you will be able to refine forever if you wish, but your foundation for it is great :+1:. Keep rocking!!

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