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Birds have been the subject of many pop and rock tunes over the years, going back to "Bluebird of Happiness” (1934), “Skylark” (1941) and “Rockin’ Robin”(1958). The word bird has also been in the title of a lot of songs, too, whether describing the feathered creature or used as a metaphor for getting away or escapism.
The 80 tunes shown below feature "bird" in their titles. Perhaps they can help you make a music playlist that soars in song.
1. “The Bird” by The Time
Album: Ice Cream Castle
Genre: R & B, Pop/Rock
Song Facts for “The Bird”
Led by frontman Morris Day, the Minneapolis based Time reached the U.S. Top 40 with this dance tune. Day played Prince’s antagonist in “Purple Rain”, and with The Time performed “The Bird” in the film. Composed by Day, Prince, and Jesse Johnson, the song refers to a dance in which you flap your arms like a bird.
Day explained in 2019 to Yahoo Music's Lyndsey Parker that the dance was inspired by a well known Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. “I don't know if you used to watch "The Flintstones", but they had an episode where everybody was doing ‘the pterodactyl,’” Day told Parker. “So it was just on from there; we started doing that onstage.”
2. “I’m Like A Bird” by Nelly Furtado
Album: Whoa, Nelly!
Song Facts for “I’m Like A Bird”
“I’m Like A Bird” earned the 2001 Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy for the Victoria, British Columbia native. It also spent 26 weeks on the U.S. Billboard singles chart. The track was named 2001’s Best Single at Canada’s Juno Awards ceremony, too. That year, Furtado was facetiously asked in an interview with The Guardian's Carolyn Sullivan, "So you're like a bird. What kind?" "A seagull" she replied."I was really inspired by a great book called Jonathan Livingston Seagull [the drippy new age classic by Richard Bach]." That book will play a role in another song in this list.
In 2011, the British girl group Little Mix performed “I’m Like A Bird” during season eight of the “The X Factor” UK-TV series.
3. “Snowbird” by Anne Murray
Album: This Way Is My Way
Genre: Country, Pop/Rock
Song Facts for “Snowbird”
“Snowbird”,written by Gene MacLellan, was initially the b-side of Murray’s single, “Just Bidin’ My Time.” In Spring 1970, a U.S. radio DJ began playing the flip side, "Snowbird", and it's popularity gained momentum in North America. It would go on to be one of the continent's most aired songs in 1970. Murray received a U.S. gold record for "Snowbird", becoming the first Canadian woman to accomplish that feat. The song was later recorded by Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, and Loretta Lynn.
4. “Surfin’ Bird” by The Trashmen
Album: Surfin’ Bird
Song Facts for “Surfin’ Bird”
With their only album consisting of surf music, you’d think this group was from southern California. However, the trio known as The Trashmen hailed from Minneapolis. Their hit single, “Surfin’ Bird” mixed the choruses from two songs by The Rivingtons (“The Bird’s The Word” and "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow”) for a top ten hit in the U.S. and the U.K.
The Ramones recorded their version of “Surfin’ Bird” in 1977 for the album, “Rocket to Russia.” Note in the video below, just one member of The Trashmen, lead singer and drummer Steve Wahrer, performs the song on “American Bandstand”.
5. “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley
Song Facts for “Three Little Birds”
The reggae legend’s “Three Little Birds” is a song that brings a smile to your face. “Don’t worry about a thing/”Cause every little thing gonna be alright” Marley sings, and you believe his positive message. A trio of canaries that often stopped by the window sill of Marley’s Tuff Gong record label headquarters (and his home during the second half of the 1970s) inspired the tune.
In 2012, Marley's daughter Cedella adapted the song's lyrics into a children's picture book titled "Every Little Thing."
6. “Caged Bird” by Alicia Keys
Album: Songs In A Minor
Song Facts for “Caged Bird”
“Right now I feel like a bird/caged without a key/Ev’ryone comes to stare at me” sings the then 19 year old Alicia Keys at the beginning of a song inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” The protagonist's only happiness comes from crooning. “Caged Bird” was a track on Keys’ debut album. Born Alicia Augello Cook in New York City, Keys began writing songs at age 14.
7. “Bird” by PSY
Album: PSY from the PSYcho World!
Genre: K-Pop, Rap
Song Facts for “Bird"
Eleven years before he had a worldwide hit single and mega YouTube success with “Gangnam Style”, Parka Jae-sung, better known as PSY, released his debut album. One track,“Bird”, featured samples from Shocking Blue and Bananarama’s hit, “Venus”. A music video was released to go with the song.
The album itself was controversial though, and led to PSY being fined by the South Korean government for its “inappropriate content”. It could not be sold to minors due to the vulgarity of its lyrics. By the way, PSY studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, but dropped out and returned home to pursue a singing career in South Korea.
8. “Blackbird” by The Beatles
Album: The Beatles
Song Facts for “Blackbird”
Paul McCartney wrote “Blackbird” in the 1960s during that era’s civil rights movement. “Take these broken wings and learn to fly/All Your Life/You were only waiting for this moment to arise” he says in the lyrics. McCartney told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in 2006 he thought of a blackbird as being a kind of symbol for a black woman. In 2016, the ex-Beatle met two of the Little Rock Nine, pioneers of the civil rights campaign, backstage at his concert in that city.
The Beatles also recorded other songs with bird in the title, specifically “And Your Bird Can Sing”, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”with bird being British slang for a girl or young woman, and the reunion tune, “Free As a Bird.” As a solo artist, McCartney composed and sang “Bluebird” with Wings.
9. “Bird Dog” by The Everly Brothers
Album: The Everly Brothers’ Best
Genre: Country, Pop/Rock
Song Facts for “Bird Dog”
“Bird Dog” was penned by Boudleaux Bryant, who wrote or co-wrote such Everly Brothers hits as “All I Have to Do is Dream”, “Wake Up Little Susie”, and “Take a Message To Mary.” The Everlys producer, Archie Bleyer originally wanted TV ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson for the spoken “He’s a bird…he’s a dog” portions of the song in the voice of his puppet, Farfel. But that idea was nixed, and "Bird Dog" went on to place second on both the U.S. and U.K. singles charts..
10. “Birdhouse in Your Soul” by They Might Be Giants
Genre: Alternative Pop/Rock
Song Facts for “Birdhouse in Your Soul”
Named after a 1971 George C. Scott movie, They Might Be Giants consists of the duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell. “Birdhouse in Your Soul” is a unique song in that it’s written from the perspective of a canary shaped nightlight. As the lyrics say, “Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch/Who watches over you/Make a little birdhouse in your soul…” The song was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, known for their work with Madness, Dexys Midnight Runners, and Morrissey.
11. “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Album: Lynyrd Skynyrd (Pronounced Leh-‘nerd Skin-‘nerd)
Song Facts for “Free Bird”
“Free Bird” , all 9 minutes and 18 seconds of it, is the last cut on the debut album by Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s interesting to note that that while the phrase “free as a bird’ is used twice in the track, the song’s title is only heard once. Right before the four plus minutes of guitar solos and jamming are heard, the line “Won’t you fly high, free bird, yeah” is sung by lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. In 1988, Will To Power’s cover medley of Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way” and “Free Bird” hit number one on the U.S. singles chart.
12. “Songbird” by Oasis
Album: Heathen Chemistry
Song Facts for “Songbird”
Liam Gallagher, not Noel, wrote this track from the band’s fifth album. Dedicated to Liam Gallagher’s future wife, All Saints member Nicole Appleton, the song reached number three on the U.K. singles chart. With a Lennon-esque vocal, he sings such tender lyrics as:"Gonna write a song so she can see/Give her all the love she gives to me/Talk of better days that have yet to come/Never felt this love from anyone."
The music video, featuring Liam Gallagher crooning and strumming an acoustic guitar under a tree, was filmed in London’s Hyde Park.
13. “White Bird” by It’s A Beautiful Day
Album: It’s a Beautiful Day
Song Facts for “White Bird”
“White Bird” was an FM Album Oriented Rock radio staple in the 1970s. Violinist and singer David LaFlamme and his wife Linda on keyboards, formed It’s A Beautiful Day in 1967. The San Francisco based group relocated to Seattle in December of that year to work on their act. The LaFlammes didn’t have enough money to return back to California. So, the couple stayed in the Emerald City, David LaFlamme said the idea to write the song came from he and Linda looking out the window of the attic where they were staying. LaFlamme on his website said,"Where the 'white bird' thing came from: We were like caged birds in that attic. We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way.” The song’s vocals have a Jefferson Airplane sound to them.
In 2001, British violinist Vanessa-Mae released a "techno-acoustic fusion" version of the song.
14. “Bluebird” by Sara Bareilles
Album: Kaleidoscope Heart
Song Facts for “Bluebird”
This “Bluebird” is not a cover of the aforementioned Paul McCartney and Wings tune from “Band on the Run”, but an original song written by Bareilles. In a 2011 interview with American Songwriter, she said her “Bluebird” is a take on what happens when a relationship ends. “It’s letting yourself take flight from a situation that’s either no longer working or happy, and kind of fell apart” she explained. “You know, it’s walking away from something but not in a defeated way, in a way that makes you feel optimistic about the possibilities.” The lyrics mention that she saw the breakup coming, and she thinks she’s fine with it. But she then admits, “All honesty knows, I wasn’t ready, no.”
“Bluebird” was the 13th track on Bareilles’ third studio album, which debuted at the top of the U.S. Billboard album chart.
15. “The Birdie Song” by The Tweets
Album: The Ultimate Cheese Party Album
Song Facts for “The Birdie Song”
The Chicken Dance has been a staple of bar and bat mitzvah receptions, kids parties, and Oktoberfest celebrations for several decades. In 1981,UK concert promoter Henry Hadaway produced an instrumental, novelty tune version of the dance, billing the artists as The Tweets (long before Twitter) and calling it “The Birdie Song”. The polka sounding track ended up being released as a single in the U.K., reaching number two on the charts. A group of costumed “Tweets” joined with the dance troupe Legs & Co. to perform “The Birdie Song” in an October 1981 broadcast of the BBC’s "Top of the Pops."
16. “Bird On The Wire” by Leonard Cohen
Album: Songs From A Room
Song Facts for “Bird On The Wire”
“Bird On The Wire” has been covered by such artists as Judy Collins (released a year before Cohen’s version), Joe Cocker, The Neville Brothers, and Johnny Cash. Cohen was inspired to write the song from his time living on the Greek island of Hydra. When he initially moved there, the island had no electricity. Cohen watched as later on, telephone poles were being built there, and birds started to sit on the wire.
The song begins with the lines, “Like a bird on a wire/Like a drunk in a midnight choir/I have tried in my way to be free.” The line, “Like a drunk in a midnight choir” refers to the festive drinking atmosphere on Hydra. The island has lots of steep steps. In the middle of the night, Cohen would often see small groups of slightly drunk men singing together, and stumbling up the stairs.
17. “Skybird” by Neil Diamond
Album: Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Song Facts for “Skybird”
Neil Diamond left Uni (later MCA) Records in 1973, receiving a reported million dollars per album advance. His first release for his new label was the soundtrack to the film, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.” The film, based on the bestselling book by Richard Bach, received poor reviews and didn’t do well at the box office. But the soundtrack earned Diamond a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album Motion Picture. “Skybird” was the second U.S. single taken from the album. As mentioned above, the book was a favorite of Nelly Furtado.
18. “Birds of Paradise” by The Pretenders
Album: Pretenders II
Song Facts for “Birds of Paradise”
“Birds of Paradise” is the fifth track on the second of just two albums from the Pretenders lineup of Chrissie Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott, Pete Farndon, and Martin Chambers. A year after “Pretenders II” was released, Farndon was asked to leave the band, and Honeyman-Scott passed away from drug related heart failure. Farndon would pass away the following year, also from a drug related circumstance.” Hynde wrote “Birds of Paradise”. In the song, Hynde reminisces about a past love with lyrics like, “ I thought about you in Stockholm and Rome/Me in my hotel room/You in your home." But the love tells her “nothing lasts forever.”
19. “Mockingbird” by Carly Simon
Song Facts for “Mockingbird”
Siblings Inez and Charlie Foxx had a top ten U.S. hit in 1963 with the jaunty “Mockingbird”, based on the lullaby “Hush Little Baby.” A decade later, the then husband and wife duo of Carly Simon and James Taylor recorded a remake of the song for Simon's “Hotcakes” album. The Simon and Taylor rendition was a top five U.S. single,too.
Simon and Taylor would perform the song live during Taylor’s 1975 tour, and at one of the September 1979 No Nukes benefit concerts at Madison Square Garden. The No Nukes appearance is shown below.
20. “Birds” by Linda Ronstadt
Album: Linda Ronstadt
Genre: Pop/Rock, Country
Song Facts for “Birds”
Ronstadt tackles this tender song, written by Neil Young and appearing on his “After the Gold Rush” album, and makes the tune all her own. The track was recorded live at The Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood, California.It includes a delicate lead vocal from Ronstadt, and a backing band which includes future Eagles Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Randy Meisner. Plus, you have strong harmony vocals from Frey, Henley, Meisner, Moon Martin,and others, The lyrics can be interpreted as describing the breakup of a couple: “When you see me fly away without you/Shadow on the things you know/Feathers fall around you/and show you the way to go/It’s over, it’s over.”
Everything But The Girl covered “Birds” on their 1993 “The Only Living Boy In New York” EP.
Even More Songs With Bird in the Title
21.Great Speckled Bird
22. Hummingbird Heartbeat
24. And Your Bird Can Sing
26. Blackbird on the Wire
The Beautiful South
27. Eagle Birds
The Black Keys
28. Birds of the High Arctic
29. The Birds Pt. 2
30. I Like Birds
31. Ghetto Bird
32.Bird Set Free
33. High Flying Bird
34. Bird Song
35. China Bird
38. The Birds of St. Marks
39. Blackbird (Different from Beatles song)
41. Lady Bird
Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood
42. Hey, Little Bird
43. The Bird Has Flown By
44. Free as a Bird
45. Bird of Prey
46. Birds of a Feather
Paul Revere & the Raiders
47. Mockin' Bird Hill
48. Feed the Birds
49. Bye Bye Blackbird
50. A Chicken Ain't Nothin' But A Bird
Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five
51. King of Bloke and Bird
52. Little Bird
54. My Bird Performs
55. King of Birds
56. Gus the Mynah Bird
57. Painted Bird
Siouxie and the Banshees
58. Valley of the Birds
59. Mr. Songbird
60. High Flying Bird
61. Sweet Bird (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)
62. Wounded Bird
63. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
64. Night Bird Flying
65. Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)
Paul McCartney and Wings
67. Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons
68. If I Were a Bird
69. Canary Bird
70. Rock and Bird
71. The Birds And The Bees
72. Silver Bird
73. Big Bird
74. Sunset (Bird of Prey)
75. The Bird Charmer's Destiny
Be Bop Deluxe
76. The Bird
77. Blackbird Chain
78. Tennessee Bird Walk
Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan
79. Danger Bird
80. No Birds
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