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Paul McCartney Meets Women Who Inspired Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ as Little Rock High School Students

Paul McCartney brought his One on One Tour to Little Rock on April 30, and paid tribute to two of the women who inspired the Beatles classic “Blackbird” while he was in town.

As McCartney explained during a Nashville show in 2010, the band was moved by the American civil rights movement during the ’50s and ’60s, and McCartney composed “Blackbird” while thinking specifically of the Little Rock Nine — a group of high school students who found themselves at the center of a hotly debated controversy after they were enrolled at the city’s all-white Central High School in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education.

“I wanted to write a song that might give hope to someone when they heard it,” explained McCartney. “So I wrote this song.”

On Saturday, McCartney met two of the Little Rock Nine, Thelma Mothershed Wair and Elizabeth Eckford, backstage at his show. As Rolling Stone reports, the evening’s performance of “Blackbird” was prefaced by an introduction explaining the song’s roots in the city.

“Way back in the ’60s, there was a lot of trouble going on over civil rights, particularly in Little Rock. We would notice this on the news back in England, so it’s a really important place for us, because to me, this is where civil rights started,” said McCartney before the song, which you can watch above. “We would see what was going on and sympathize with the people going through those troubles, and it made me want to write a song that, if it ever got back to the people going through those troubles, it might just help them a little bit, and that’s this next one.”

McCartney’s One on One Tour is currently scheduled to run through mid-August. Visit his website for a complete list of upcoming dates and ticketing information, and check out his backstage photo with Wair and Eckford below.

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