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about

This gift to the world came compliments of the epic folk glory known as Gina Forsyth, another outstanding Mississipian.

I became obsessed with Gina's hauntingly sparse setting of this song (just fiddle and voice) from her album 2011 album "The Promised Land." We actually both released albums of the same name that year, but didn't know each other at all. Mine was an eclectic collection of Spirituals from the African-American folk tradition, hers was a taut offering of Americana portraitture that ranged from sympathetic to sardonic. I experienced the Forsyth setting was so epically timeless, that I started started to wonder if it was some ancient Appalachian ditty that everyone in the know knew about.

One night, when I was stopped over in Oxford, MS on my way to the Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival, I just couldn't get the song out of my head. At around 4am I gathered the courage to ask her about it out of sheer delirium. I hit her up on FB like the young folks do, and within 15 minutes she had responded. She said it was indeed her song, that the melody had been born years ago but the lyric came at a time when she was struggling with matters of the heart and was longing for escape. I asked about my favorite lyric "With my wings open / I dove into silence / Caught by the wild winds and / Carried away." She said that was the line that grabbed her too. She said that line appeared to have the most mystery in it, so she followed that line, asking herself what that line meant to her, and filled out the rest of the lyric accordingly. She said she finds "following the mystery" a good strategy as a general rule of thumb.

I debuted my gospel setting of the tune the next night during my set at the Iron Horse. It still had a long way to go, but it was deep honor that she permitted me to allow that song to inhabit my bones, it's longing seeping into my very marrow. I included it with the "Anatomy" collection as the big sister song to the others; if "Jenny" was about despair, "Backside" about anger," and "Rare Bird" about self-acceptance, "Sparrows" reconciles them all in its sway of transcendence.

lyrics

SPARROWS
(Words and music by Gina Forsyth)

WISH I COULD FLY LIKE
THE SMALLEST OF SPARROWS
HIGH O’ER THE EARTH
AND FAR FROM THE GROUND
AND ALL I WOULD FEEL THEN
WOULD BE THE WINGS BEATING
TO GRAVITY’S CEILING
I’D NEVER BE BOUND

IN SOME OTHER LIFETIME
I WAS JUST LIKE THEM
HIGH O’ER THE EARTH
FOR ONE JOYOUS DAY
AND WITH MY WINGS OPEN
I DOVE INTO SILENCE
CAUGHT BY THE WILD WINDS
AND CARRIED AWAY

FAR FROM MY WONDERING
FAR FROM MY LONGING
FAR FROM THIS BURDEN
AS I COULD GO
ONE OF THESE MORNINGS
I’LL GO LIKE THE SPARROWS
FREE FROM THE SORROWS
OF THIS WORLD BELOW

NOW I AM HUMAN
AND HEAVIER LADEN
LONGING AND WAITING
TO FLY ONCE AGAIN
FREE FROM THIS BURDEN
FREE FROM THIS HURTING
ONE THING’S FOR CERTAIN
FREE I’LL BE THEN

FREE FROM MY WONDERING
FREE FROM MY LONGING
FREE FROM THIS BURDEN
AS ONWARD I GO
ONE OF THESE MORNINGS
I’LL GO LIKE THE SPARROWS
FREE FROM THE SORROWS
OF THIS WORLD BELOW

credits

from ORANGE MUSIC, VOLUMES I & II, released January 15, 2017

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about

LILLI LEWIS @folkrockdiva New Orleans, Louisiana

Lilli Lewis bears a progressive, provocative, and conscientious presence paired with a love for music that began before she composed her first song on the piano at age three, Lewis is a modern day Renaissance woman, who, when in full gear, conjures the likes of Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Odetta, and Janis Joplin. ... more

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