The "White Bird house," 1429 E Prospect Street,
in Seattle's Volunteer Park neighborhood

First gig: The Encore Ballroom in Seattle, December 1 and 2, 1967

 
Iconic. Ethereal. Haunting. Just a few of the words that describe David's classic song.

Winter, 1967 found David and It's A Beautiful Day in Seattle for a series of shows at the Encore Ballroom. The weather - gloomy and rainy, as it usually is in Seattle that time of year - was a damper on the band's mood but ultimately inspired one of the best-known, most-loved songs to come out of that era. David recalls:

"We were living in the attic of an old Victorian house in Seattle, and performing at the Encore Ballroom. It was a typical Seattle winter day, rainy and drizzly, and we were looking out from the attic window over the street in front of this old house. It was on Capitol Hill, the old section of town across from Volunteer Park ...

"The song describes the picture as we looked out this little window in this attic. We had a little Wurlitzer portable piano sitting right in the well of this window, and I'd sit and work on songs. When you hear lines like, '... the leaves blow across the long black road to the darkened sky and its rage ...,' it's describing what I was seeing out the window.

"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."

It's A Beautiful Day's first album featured White Bird as the opening track. Released as a single, it debuted on Billboard magazine's best-seller chart on October 4, 1969 and there for four weeks. The song was (and is) a staple on FM stations and remains a crowd favorite when David performs it in concert.

Numerous movies and television shows have featured White Bird in their soundtracks, including:

  • Knight Rider: "Let it Be Me" (Season 2, Episode 23, 13 May 1984) and "The Scent of Roses" (Season 4, Episode 12, 3 January 1986)
  • Beverly Hills 90210 (1994)
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1994)
  • Clueless (1995)
  • Frasier (1995-96 season)
  • Wings (1995-96 season)
  • Ellen (1996-97 season)
  • The Rat Pack (with Ray Liotta, 1998)
  • A Walk on the Moon (with Diane Lane and Viggio Mortensen, 1998)
  • Star Trek: Voyager (1999)
  • Gilmore Girls (2001-02 season)
  • Adult World (with John Cusack and Emma Roberts, 2013)
  • Focus (with Will Smith, 2015)

White Bird has also been recorded by a variety of artists ranging from the proto-grunge sound of Love Battery (1994) to mandolin virtuoso Sam Bush (on his 2006 CD Laps in Seven), classical violinist Vaness-Mae (Subject to Change, 2001) and indie band The Strangelings (Season of the Witch, 2007).