The sessions Aretha Franklin cut with Bobby Scott never got a full and proper release until nearly half a century after they were recorded. Issued as part of the box Take A Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia in 2011, Tiny Sparrow: The Bobby Scott Sessions, compiled and issued all of their sessions together for the first time, many of them unreleased up to that point. The compilation’s title cut, which first released in 2002, finds Aretha dreaming of flying away.
The song originates from the traditions of folk music. Known also as “Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies”, the ballad originated from the Appalachian region in the United States. Aretha largely steers away from the folk roots of the song, aside from hints of the folk roots in the guitar part. She instead applies a pop ballad arrangement to her interpretation of the song. “It reminds me of church,” she told Bobby Scott, who also wrote the cut, which they recorded together in 1963.
Even at just 21, Aretha sings with such conviction and melancholy that her voice exudes experience beyond her years. Or, maybe it’s simply a testament to how much she’d already endured at such a young age.
Though the song wasn’t released until the 2000’s, Aretha performed it live once in 1964.
Listen to “Tiny Sparrow”: