Blackbird was written by Paul McCartney in 1968 and appears on The Beatles' album 'The White Album'. McCartney has stated that the song was inspired after listening to a blackbird singing whilst practising transcendental meditation in India, and from the troubled state of racial problems in United States at the time.
This song is a very popular one to learn for virtually all acoustic guitarists, and for good reason. It's a song that isn't too tricky to play and sounds fantastic even without the lyrics.
The fingerpicking technique McCartney's used for the song isn't your typical approach, and you see lots of people (including myself for many years) playing it incorrectly. McCartney learnt the technique from singer-songwriting and fingerpicker Donavan.
Rather than permanently picking each individual string he plays the bass notes with his thumb, uses his first finger to pluck the B string, then still using his first finger he lightly strums the G and B stings as well. As a result from lightly strumming the strings you get a very warm and gentle tone. It will likely take some work to get it flowing together smoothly but it's well worth it.
- Key - G major
- Tuning - standard
- Tempo - 94 bpm
- Difficulty - intermediate
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How to Play Blackbird (Lesson 1)
I've written the guitar tab as if you were to fingerpick right through without the light strumming, otherwise the score would be a mess. As I mentioned above, be sure to apply the correct technique as taught in the video lesson.
Want to learn more songs by The Beatles?
Blackbird Guitar Lesson (Part 2)
It's a very similar approach for the chorus of Blackbird. Therefore, if you've made it this far you shouldn't struggle too much with any new changes.
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Let me know what you thought of the lesson in the comments section below. Say what you found hard/easy, what level you're at and what your fingerpicking goals are.