Jason’s Jukebox: Track #5 'Sail Away Tiny Sparrow" by Harry Manfredini
Even the most heavily scored films always carry a secondary soundtrack; songs that play in the background usually as scene setters or shameless promotions for up and coming bands or rock stars. The Friday flicks are no exception, with numerous songs littered through the series from both well established artists from Alice Cooper to The Hives to lesser known and never to be heard from again starlets.
For this track, we are going all the way back to the beginning to highlight a tune with a strange history of reappearing in different forms throughout the years. The original 1980 Friday the 13th features the song “Sail Away Tiny Sparrow,” which was written by the film’s composer Harry Manfredini, now a legend due to his ki ki ki ma ma ma theme.
In the seminal book Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th, author Peter M. Bracke quotes Manfredini on the genesis of the song. Manfredini revealed that the first cut of the film had a Dolly Parton song entitled “Fly Away Little Bluebird.” Naturally, being of small budget the filmmakers had to sacrifice the track due to cash constraints. Enter Manfredini, who then penned this similarly titled tune.
Now the track, albeit in different forms, appears a total of three times throughout the film. The first inclusion comes when Annie finds her way into the Crystal Lake general store hoping to bum a ride to the camp. The tune is blasting from the radio behind the counter, and the female tending the counter turns it down in order to hear Annie’s request. The song is light with a female singer boasting a slightly country feel, presumably by influence of the previous tune by Parton. The mostly recognized version of the song, have a listen here:
This same version of the tune appears again in a later scene leading up to the film’s climax. Camp leader Steve Christie is finding refuge from the rain in the nearby Blairstown Diner (the diner’s name is seen on the menus; Blairstown was the actual town the film was shot in), and the tune again plays joyfully throughout the scene while he flirtingly confers with the Diner’s waitress.
Finally, although not immediately recognizable, the song appears in one of the most iconic scenes of the entire series. As revealed by Manfredini, the soothing composition played while Alice idyllically awakes in the rowboat on the waters of Crystal Lake is in fact an alternate version of the song. Instrumental and played to a much slower pace, this version was made to give the audience a false sense of security just before that breaking moment when….well, we all know what happens next to snap us and the exhausted Alice out of a presumed happy ending. Listen and see if he can hear the resemblance below:
Over the years, this track has been often pondered and discussed, largely due to the film’s credits not having a track listing to identify it. The female voice heard over the radio version has been identified as singer Angela Rotella. To make fans scratch their heads just a bit more, Manfredini has included the song on subsequent soundtracks, however it has been presented in a much slower version such as on the iTunes offering of Friday the 13th The Ultimate Compilation in 2011 making the voice even sound male in comparison to Rotella’s original vocal offering.