Birds Are “Here, There and Everywhere”

By: Matt Foss, assistant director on November 21st, 2018

My two year-old son is a Beatles fanatic. He loves most of the songs, both popular and obscure; his favorite movie is “A Hard Day’s Night,” and when put to bed he asks my wife and me to sing relaxing tracks such as “Golden Slumbers,” “In My Life,” and “I’m So Tired” to induce sleepiness. We indulge him to encourage his appreciation of good music as opposed to the usual tripe that children his age tend to enjoy.

Our daughter, who also adores the Fab Four and loves Birds in Art, was quick to note that several songs in the Beatles catalogue include the word “bird” in the title. “And Your Bird Can Sing,” “Blackbird,” “Blue Jay Way,” “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” and “Free As a Bird” represent birds on many varied Beatles albums. I’ve tried to explain to her – with moderate success – that in these cases, really none of those songs are actually about birds.

Those of you who know British linguistics, know the term “bird” also means “girl.” “And Your Bird Can Sing” and “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” are about specific girls, “Blackbird” is Paul McCartney’s ode to the American civil rights movement, and “Blue Jay Way” is George Harrison’s psychedelic reference to a street he lived on in the Hollywood Hills. So although “bird” is in the title, only the 1995 Beatles Anthology track “Free as a Bird” concerns the birds the Woodson Art Museum features.

Although the Beatles never focused much on our feathered friends in the sky, we can’t help ourselves at the Woodson. Birds in Art and the Museum’s permanent collection – standard setting for art of the avian world – remain our hallmarks and worthy of examination during the last few remaining days to see the 2018 edition of Birds in Art, on view through Sunday, November 25.

I hope never to work at a natural history museum; can you imagine trying to explain “I Am The Walrus” to my kids? Oy.

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