12.01-WHITE BIRD (It's A Beautiful Day)

It's a Beautiful Day



White bird in a golden cage
On a winter's day
In the rain.
White bird in a golden cage

The leaves blow 'cross the long black road
To the darkened sky
In its rage.
But the white bird just sits in her cage

     White bird must fly
     Or she will die.


The white bird dreams of the aspen trees
With their dying leaves
Turning gold.
But the white bird just sits in her cage
Growing old.

     [Chorus 3x]

          The sunsets come
          The sunsets go
          The clouds roll by
          And the Earth turns slow
          And the young bird's eyes
          Do always glow
          And she must fly (3x)


[Repeat 1st verse]

     [Chorus 3x]

     White bird must fly…

If the similarity in tone between the harmonies of David LaFlamme & Patti Santos didn’t remind the listener of Marty Balin & Grace Slick, and therefore proclaim itself an expression of the psychedelic period, the title White Bird would be a give it away. Ironically for a period that sung of rainbows, psychedelic music featured the non-color white in more titles than any other. And they tended to be Top 10 hits too…White Rabbit; Whiter Shade of Pale; White Room. A white bird, symbol of peace, seems like a great hippie image. However, the song probably would have sold better in the U.S. if it had been released about the time it was first recorded in 1968. With the public taste moving away from psychedelia, the single didn’t even break into the Top 100 despite heavy radio play. It was widely assumed that the album sold better than the single due to the strength of its album cover.

Heard in October 1969, the violin playing by David LaFlamme was not as unique as it would have been earlier. Blind Faith’s long violin solo played by Ric Grech in Sea of Joy preceded the release of White Bird by a couple of months. Still, LaFlamme's violin work was impressive from its plucked strings in the introduction to its ascending scale signifying flight in the second break. And the lyrics offered a metaphor easily sympathetic to middle class teenagers who felt themselves trapped in their parents’ “golden cage”, who felt they must “fly”—run away from home. As It’s a Beautiful Day were a San Francisco group (imported from Seattle), the song did very well in that California city, where it reportedly rose to #3 on the charts locally. But the song was preaching to the choir, for their audience, drawn to Haight-Ashbury since 1967 as if it were Mecca, would have mostly consisted of “escapees” from middle class confinement. By late 1969, however, the Haight had lost its magic, though there were probably a lot of young adventurers throughout the U.S. who were not yet aware of the fact that the glory days of the neighborhood had passed.