Shady Grove

In my foolish youth I thought Tom Petty was kind of a joke, until Bob Dylan in Chronicles woke me up hard.

Bob also has words of respect for Jerry Garcia:

What an eerie tune.  Wikipedia is unusually quiet on this one.

Many verses exist,[citation needed] most of them describing the speaker’s love for a woman called Shady Grove. There are also various choruses, which refer to the speaker traveling somewhere (to Harlan, to a place called Shady Grove, or simply “away”)

Harlan

Harlan

The folks at mudcat.org take on the problem:

Subject: Origins: ‘Shady Grove’ a mondegreen ?
From: GUEST,Jake
Date: 15 Aug 10 – 11:23 PMMulling (for the thousandth time) over the incongruity of ‘Shady Grove’ which is nothing about trees protecting the singer from the sun, but seems to be a woman’s name, it occurred to me in a flash of insight, that of course it must have started as a song about a Woman or girl named “Sadie” with the surname “Grove”, ie, “Sadie Grove”, and was corrupted by the usual vagaries of oral transmission, etc, etc.   Searching this forum and the web generally provides no support for this conjecture, however.


Subject: RE: Origins: ‘Shady Grove’ a mondegreen ?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Aug 10 – 11:32 PMI have always shared this confusion: Shady Grove seems to be the woman’s name, but also the name of the place or location in which she lives, sometimes incongruously both at the same time. The fact that it’s one of those myriad songs [Going Down Town; Bowling Green …] which share pretty much the same set of ‘floaters’ doesn’t help.~Michael~


Subject: RE: Origins: ‘Shady Grove’ a mondegreen ?
From: Hamish
Date: 16 Aug 10 – 03:18 AM”Wish I was in Shady Grove” takes on a new meaning.”When I was in Shady Grove I heard them pretty birds sing” (and the earth moved, no doubt).


Subject: RE: Origins: ‘Shady Grove’ a mondegreen ?
From: GUEST,Lynn W
Date: 16 Aug 10 – 04:11 AMThere is a comment on Wikipedia that the melody is similar to Matty Groves. Any connection, I wonder?


Subject: RE: Origins: ‘Shady Grove’ a mondegreen ?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Aug 10 – 05:19 AMWikipedia has got it backwards. The folk-revival version of “Matty Groves” took its tune from “Shady Grove”.

That’s as far down this hole as I can go at the moment.

I’d be shocked if any Helytimes readers hadn’t wikipedia’d The Child Ballads.

If demographizing the known Helytimes readership, I’d say “it’s people, mostly people I know, who have Wikipedia’d The Child Ballads.”

Still, why not a refresher on some best ofs?

FJM

Although shy and diffident on account of his working-class origins, he was soon recognized as “the best writer, best speaker, best mathematician, the most accomplished person in knowledge of general literature” and he became extremely popular with his classmates.

Child became the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory when he we was 26.  Says an admirer, writing in the 1970s:

Child well understood how indispensable good writing and good speaking are to civilization, or as many would now prefer to say, to society. For him, writing and speaking were not only the practical means by which men share useful information, but also the means whereby they formulate and share values, including the higher order of values that give meaning to life and purpose to human activities of all sorts. Concerned as he thus so greatly was with rhetoric, oratory, and the motives of those mental disciplines, Child was inevitably drawn into pondering the essential differences between speech and writing, and to searching for the origins of thoughtful expression in English.

(Yes!  That’s the good reason for being into this I’ve been looking for.)

Sometimes I picture Child backpacking around from pub to pub learning these things.  Mostly, though, he got them from manuscripts.

Don’t you worry, he could cut loose sometimes:

he also gave a sedulous but conservative hearing to popular versions still surviving.

Child engaged

 in extensive international correspondence on the subject with colleagues abroad, primarily with the Danish literary historian and ethnographer Svend Grundtvig, whose monumental twelve-volume compilation of Danish ballads, Danmarks gamle Folkeviser, vols. 1–12 (Copenhagen, 1853), was the model for Child’s resulting canonical five-volume edition of some 305 English and Scottish ballads and their numerous variants.

Svend

Svend.

Child is buried in the Sedgwick Pie.

Sedgwick pie

Is Kyra Sedgwick eligible for the Sedgwick Pie?  Seems like she might be.  Also seems a bit rude to ask a wonderful and very alive actress and mother if she’s given any thought to her grave.

Famously (? I guess, I never read the biography) not included:

Edie Sedgwick

 



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