Annie Lennox : 100 BEAUTIFUL SONGS

Number 2 : Little Bird by Annie Lennox from Diva in 1992

Little Bird – Annie received critical raves for “Little Bird” with one reviewer saying her songwriting chops were on full display with her call-and-response confidence for this upbeat track. It’s like no other Annie song, either solo or with Eurythmics. A no-holds-barred pop and dance hit, it remains a defining track for Annie. It received a celebrated remix from Utah Saints (who sampled no other than Eurythmics’ “There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)” on the mix). As excellent as the song is, it may be the video that has put it at No. 2 for this fan-voted poll. The video features a series of actors in drag performing eight of Annie’s most celebrated personas as the real (and very pregnant) Annie directs in a Cabaret-styled stage performance. It’s brilliant and hilarious.

Top 15 voters

Alfredo Ramos1
Gabriel De Luca1
Grace Gomez1
Ian Renner1
Yann Jouvet1
Eddie Davis2
Mark Stevens2
Wolfgang Nomi2
Ben Rawson-Jones3
Stewart Lennox3
Vincent Locard3
Alexander Barton4
Gary Krupnick4
Rex Saldana4
Clem Stambaugh5

i look up to the little bird
that glides across the sky
he sings the clearest melody
it makes me want to cry
it makes me want to sit right down
and cry cry cry

i walk along the city streets
so dark with rage and fear
and I…
i wish that I could be that bird
and fly away from here
i wish I had the wings to fly away from here

but my my I feel so low
my my where do I go?
my my what do I know?
my my we reap what we sow
they always said that you knew best
but this little bird’s fallen out of that nest now
i’ve got a feeling that it might have been blessed
so I’ve just got to put these wings to test

for I am just a troubled soul
who’s weighted…
weighted to the ground
give me the strength to carry on
till I can lay this burden down
give me the strength to lay this burden down
down down yea
give me the strength to lay it down

but my my I feel so low
my my where do I go?
my my what do I know?
my my we reap what we sow
they always said that you knew best
but this little bird’s fallen out of that nest now
i’ve got a feeling that it might have been blessed
so I’ve just got to put these wings to test

I turned 12 in 1992, and all of my adolescent awkwardness was on full display. It seems that’s a difficult age for most people, as hormones and the transition out of childhood and all of that naked insecurity around identity and how you fit in are all seemingly magnified with a blinding spotlight.

Music had already become a refuge for me, and while I had strongly taken to the “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” single and video, my first album-length exposure to Annie Lennox was through Diva that year. The entire album swept over me with its elegance and grace, but one song stood out above all the others, and that was “Little Bird”. It became an uplifting personal anthem for me – its narrative of mustering strength after feeling so vulnerable served as a call to arms to stay strong during those turbulent times.

On the surface, that isn’t unique, as there are innumerable “stay true to yourself” songs, including several in 1992. What made “Little Bird” so powerful was in how it built that power. Starting off with a bird call that becomes processed into a haunted echo to serve as a percussive element throughout the song comes from the school of sublime weirdness that Eurythmics traded in so wonderfully. Indeed, the parade of eighth note “clucks” when joined with the synth pulse and four-on-the-floor dance beat makes for an utterly irresistible rhythm to drive the song in such singular ways.

It’s where theatre meets the dancefloor, where idiosyncrasies transform from sources of vulnerability into weapons wielded with steely resolve to be boldly uncompromising in affirming your identity. Against this backdrop, Annie displays such breathtaking range. It’s in her lilt of the 5-syllable “bird” to start: “I look up to-oo-oo the-uh… lit-tuh-uhl birrr-IR-ir-ir-ird”. It’s in the way she lets the “rage” and “fear” linger in her mouth as she injects each syllable with such venom. It’s in the high pitched cries of “But Mama!” with which she bursts with wrenching desperation. And for me, most powerfully, it’s in the descending 3-notes of her lower register that she taps into her inner resolve that spark so magnificently: “And I, I wish that I could be that bird and fly away from here… EE-EE-ERE”.

Those wondrous three notes pulled from the depths of her soul set my hairs on end. I would be remiss to not mention the stunning video for the song, in which a veritable army of Annies from different eras of her career proudly strut their stuff along a catwalk, all led by the contemporary Annie maniacally grinning and pounding her cane to the beat, looking like a mix of the decadence of A Clockwork Orange and the leader of a Vaudeville act. In it, she defiantly waves her freak flag for all to see, and with that, I felt empowered to remain uncompromisingly me throughout my adolescence and into adulthood.

Counting down these 100 songs reveals the scope of her impact, and none of had as much of a personal impact on me as this.
Ian Renner

COLLECTABLE RECORD

Alongside a plethora of standard releases of CD singles, cassette singles and vinyl, I’ve featured the Symphony Of British Music which is a CD issued after the UK 2012 Olympic Games that featured Annie Lennox’s live performance of Little Bird. I also couldn’t resist adding the French CD for Little Bird \ Love Song For A Vampire that has Vampire spelt as Vampre on the CD.

View the whole discography for Little Bird here

Record IDImageFormatRelease DetailsNoteClick for more info
4224
UP2018-06
Annie Lennox - A Symphony Of British Music - CD - The UK'CDArtist : Annie Lennox
Title : A Symphony Of British Music
Format : CD
Label : Decca
Cat No. : 5340326
Country : The UK
Promo : No
A Symphony Of British Music - 2012 Closing Ceremony
Features Little Bird live performance from The 2012 Olympic Games closing ceremony
link

Record IDImageFormatRelease DetailsNoteClick for more info
6069
NW2019-04
Annie Lennox - Little Bird - CD Single - France'CD SingleArtist : Annie Lennox
Title : Little Bird
Format : CD Single
Label : BMG RCA
Cat No. : 74321131802
Country : France
Promo : No
Standard release - BM Code 490. CD title has missplet Vampire as Vampre.link

MEMORABILIA

A selection of press photos, shop displays and sheet music. 

CHART HISTORY

Click to view the chart history for Little Bird
CountryChartPositionYear End
AustraliaARIA Singles Chart38
CanadaSingles Chart7
FranceSingles Chart10
GermanySingles Chart29
IrelandSingles Chart3
ItalySingles Chart7
SwitzerlandSingles Chart34
The UKSingles Chart3
The USABillboard Hot Dance Club Play1
The USABillboard Hot 10049

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