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Andrew Birkenstein

For most of my childhood, I thought the Beatles song “And Your Bird Can Sing” was called “Andrew Birkenstein,”and so I pictured the song as a direct address to this guy Andrew Birkenstein. In a way, for someone like me who is super literal, that makes the most sense.

The song begins with the sound of swirling guitars playing in harmony as a tambourine shakes to the 2/4 beat. The vocal comes in with the lyric “tell me that you’ve got everything you want” and then another joins in harmony “and your bird can sing,” and both voices climb higher, with “but you don’t get me, you don’t get me.”

Can’t you picture someone named “Andrew Birkenstein” simply not “getting” someone else who is really trying to get them to understand something essential about themselves?

Then, the next lyric repeated in the same melodic, imploring pattern, “ you say you’ve seen seven wonders, and your bird is green, but you can’t see me, you can’t see me.”

Andrew Birkenstein, you're well-traveled, but you can’t see me, and you can see that green bird?!? Are you envious of me? Is that it?

Then, sung in a more understanding tone over a complex bass line: “when your prized possessions start to weigh you down, look in my direction, I’ll be round, I’ll be round.”

So, Andrew Birkenstein, is really into his stuff, but the song’s author wants to assure him that – despite his being distracted by material objects -- they can still be friends. This fit with my romanticized notions of childhood friendship, that there can be true understanding between two people with seemingly different values.

The guitars then join together into another swirling melody, with what sounds like hands clapping together

Solo vocal enters: “When your bird is broken will it bring you down/You may be awoken, I'll be 'round, I'll be 'round”

And in harmony: “You tell me that you've heard every sound there is/And your bird can swing
But you can't hear me, you can't hear me “

And that’s how the song ends! No resolution, but is Andrew Birkenstein a fellow musician? The guitars swirl together and end on a vibrating chord. Andrew Birkenstein has been challenged!

Shaken Not Stirred

I Learned to Sing Weeping