How Shall a Sparrow Fly

Songfacts®:

  • Ryan Bingham wrote and recorded this haunting, acoustic song specifically for the Scott Cooper-directed film Hostiles. Bingham and Cooper's previous collaboration "The Weary Kind" was a co-write with T Bone Burnett for Crazy Heart. That tune won the best original song Oscar in 2010.
  • Hostiles follows a US Cavalry officer as he escorts a Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their home in Montana in 1892. Ryan Bingham appears in the film as Sgt. Malloy and this song is sung during a pivotal scene as he and the other the weary travelers stop for the night.
  • Bingham sings the song from the perspective of Sgt. Malloy. He explained to Billboard how he created an entire backstory for his character.

    "I really had to dig into who this character was and where he came from. His last name being Malloy, I assumed he was of Irish descent, so that was where I started. I felt the only way I could write the song was to first try and understand what these characters were going through in that particular time and place. You had all these different people converging on the West looking to establish some sort of identity, while experiencing unbelievable brutality and hardship. I imagined Malloy as one of these people... and I figured this song was something he had brought with him from home when he first came to America as a young child."

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