Paul McCartney Gave Beyoncé Permission to Use Original Beatles' Backing Track for 'Blackbird' Cover

Via Variety:

If the backing track on Beyoncé’s new recording of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” sounds especially familiar, there’s good reason for that. It turns out that the cover version she recorded for her “Cowboy Carter” album uses instrumental elements — McCartney’s acoustic guitar and foot tapping — from the original Beatles‘ recording released in 1968.

That information was confirmed to Variety by a rep for McCartney, who cited Beyonce’s team. While McCartney is listed as playing guitar on the song in the credits (which have been unveiled gradually since the album’s release last Friday and still appear incomplete), it is not clear from the wording whether his work on the track was newly recorded.

McCartney wrote and recorded the song by himself in 1968 for the Beatles’ White Album, letting the other members of the group sit it out as he accompanied himself on acoustic guitar and percussive foot-tapping — exactly what is heard on Beyoncé‘s fresh rendition, which has been retitled “Blackbiird,” in a spelling alteration similar to others on the album to reflect its “Part II” theme. Although the song is also credited to John Lennon, like most latter-day Lennon-McCartney songs, it was primarily if not entirely written by just one of them.

...McCartney has said that he wrote “Blackbird” in response to the civil rights movement that was at a fever peak in America at the time, associating it with Black women especially (hence the play on the British slang “bird,” for girl”). Extending that theme, the Beyoncé version gives featured credit for additional harmony vocals to four Black women who are in the arena of country music — Tanner Adell, Tiera Kennedy, Reyna Roberts and Brittney Spencer.

This is not the first time McCartney and other rights-holders have allowed the use of “Blackbird” tracks in another artist’s recording. Previously, in 2019, with McCartney’s permission, Rachel Fuller took the original Beatles track and added new parts by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chamber Choir of London.