COME ALL YOU FAIR AND TENDER LADIES
“Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies” (aka “Tiny Sparrow” or “Little Sparrow”) is an American folk music ballad, originating from the Appalachian region. It has been recorded under either of its two title variations by numerous artists, including The Carter Family, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Odetta, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio, Leon Bibb, Makem and Clancy, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, The Rankin Family, The Country Gentlemen, Murray Head and Dolly Parton. The title of the song varies from recording to recording and prior to the 1960s, the song was usually known as “Tiny Sparrow” or “Little Sparrow”. Some versions substituted the “Sparrow” with “Swallow,” another form of species of bird. In more recent times, the song’s title sometimes finds “Maidens” substituted for “Ladies,” and “Come All Ye” or “Come All You” sometimes omitted. In 2010, Marideth Sisco performed a portion of the song in the film Winter’s Bone.
Come all ye fair and tender ladies.
Be careful how you court young men.
They’re like a star on a summer’s morning.
They’ll first appear and then they’re gone.
They’ll tell you some loving story
They’ll declare to you their love is true
Then they will go and court some other
And that’s the love they have for you
Do you remember our days of courting
When your head lay upon my breast
You could make me believe with falling of your arm
That the sun rose in the West
I wish I was a little sparrow,
And I had wings with which to fly
Right over to see my false true-lover,
And when he’s talking I’d be nigh.
But I’m not a little sparrow,
I have no wings with which to fly
So I sit here in grief and sorrow,
To weep and pass my troubles by.
If I had known before I courted
that love was such a killing thing
I’d a-locked my heart in a box of golden
and fastened it up with a silver pin.