We’re not the only ones who sing and we aren’t really all that good at it when compared to some of nature’s finest. I actually started this post thinking that I’d write about songs with birds in the title or songs about birds, but as I listened to more and more tunes I realised that birdsong has been sampled in a lot of great records. So this is a list of tunes that include real birdsong (as far as I can tell) in the recording. Genre isn’t really an issue here, so we get everything from classic 60s pop, a 90s dance classic and on to a 40s field recording. Of course, if you’re up early enough I’d recommend you open the window and listen to the real thing. Unless it’s mostly seagulls – they can’t really hold a note.
1. The Beatles – Blackbird
Mrs 07tunes learned to play this on the guitar, so I’ve heard it a lot in recent years. It’s a beautiful song which apparently McCartney wrote in response to rising racial tensions in the US. It’s the first Beatles song to make it onto one of the lists, somewhat amazingly.
2. Feist – The Park
This song by indie warbler Feist (see what I did there?), perfectly evokes a lazy day sitting in a park. The backing track of birds tweeting away provide a great accompaniment to the lo-fi guitar production and simple melody.
3. The Young Rascals – Groovin’
As in many songs on this list, the birds recorded in this song (are they real birds… I’m not sure?) are used at the start of the song to help signify a kind of chilled-out relaxed vibe. The kind you get on a Sunday afternoon, when you’re out and about er… ‘groovin’. I’ve always loved the ecstasy/endlessly rhyme in this one.
4. The Orb – Little Fluffy Clouds
This song is best heard at about 5 or 6am, provided you approach that hour from the correct direction. Appropriately enough it starts with a cock crowing though I probably wouldn’t fancy being dragged out of bed to listen to it.
5. Pulp – Birds in Your Garden
This is from pulp’s much under-rated ‘We Love Life’ album. It’s a simple story of a man examining his thoughts regarding his sleeping partner in the early morning. It can probably be best summed up with the lyric ‘Come on and give it to her, you know it’s now or never’.
6. Abbey Lincoln – Caged bird
I like it when a list introduces me to music I’ve never heard before and this is definitely one of those occasions. A gorgeous slice of Jazz that once again reflects the struggle for racial equality in the US.
7. Nightingale sings as RAF bombers Fly
As soon as I started thinking of recordings with birdsong in them I kept coming back to this. I heard it recently on BBC4’s Desert island Discs and I just loved it – the menace of the bombers and the purity of the Nightingale song combine to incredible effect.
If you’d like to listen to all the tunes consecutively – you know, like an old mixtape – check out the youtube playlist.