Song of the Day #1,163: ‘Sparrow’ – Simon & Garfunkel

It seems appropriate a week after I named Paul Simon as my favorite songwriter to explore his work in more detail. Welcome to Paul Simon Weekends!

Over the next few months, I will explore Simon’s work both with Simon & Garfunkel and as a solo artist. His career has spanned 47 years and 16 studio albums, plus a soundtrack and several live records. Lots of blog fodder there. So let’s dive right in with the 1964 debut of Simon & Garfunkel.

Wednesday Morning, 3 AM is a modest little folk record, released quietly in 1964 and quickly forgotten. It features five Paul Simon originals and seven covers of classic folk songs. The duo cover ‘Peggy-O’ and ‘Go Tell It On the Mountain’ as well as a track by one of Simon’s heroes — Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.’

The times were indeed changing, and Simon & Garfunkel initially found themselves on the wrong side of history, putting out a simple folk album at the same time Dylan was plugging in and turning his back on that scene.

Simon showed a knack for beautiful melodies right out of the gate, as on today’s track, ‘Sparrow.’ The tune and harmonies are lovely, though the nursery rhyme lyrics don’t really hint at the genius yet to come.

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Who’s traveled far and cries for rest?
“Not I,” said the Oak Tree,
“I won’t share my branches with no sparrow’s nest,
And my blanket of leaves won’t warm her cold breast.”

Who will love a little Sparrow
And who will speak a kindly word?
“Not I,” said the Swan,
“The entire idea is utterly absurd,
I’d be laughed at and scorned if the other Swans heard.”

Who will take pity in his heart,
And who will feed a starving sparrow?
“Not I,” said the Golden Wheat,
“I would if I could but I cannot I know,
I need all my grain to prosper and grow.”

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Will no one write her eulogy?
“I will,” said the Earth,
“For all I’ve created returns unto me,
From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be.”

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,163: ‘Sparrow’ – Simon & Garfunkel

  1. Amy says:

    I guess what’s most apparent in today’s song is just how perfectly Simon and Garfunkel harmonize. The way their voices blended in so many of their songs is one of the things I love best about them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t say that this song could suggest what Simon would ultimately be capable of creating.

    Great choice for the new weekend series! I look forward to revisiting the highlights of his career, while learning more than a few things, as I always do from these posts.

  2. Dana says:

    Great weekend choice, sure to please all your regulars I would think, including me.

    I’m not very familiar with this album, having only heard probably a few tracks over the years. And this is not one of the songs I’ve heard, but a lovely song it is.

    Perhaps it is hard to isolate this song from the grandness of Simon’s career, but I think it foreshadows quite well as to how Simon can write a beautiful tune and, as Amy said, harmonize so perfectly with Garfunkel. I suspect that, if I had heard this song in 1964, it would have peaked my curiosity and left me wanting to hear more, just as it does today…Looking forward to tomorrow’s song, and the many weekends ahead.

  3. pegclifton says:

    I’m a little late but just wanted to say I think it’s a great weekend choice too!

  4. Victoria says:

    I think of the civil rights movement and the integration of Central High and white people protesting against innocent children, in general not wanting to help minorities.

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