Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shady Grove -- Jean Ritchie and Quicksilver Messenger Service


Shady Grove, my little love
Shady Grove, I say
Shady Grove, my little love
I'm bound to go away

Cheeks as red as a blooming rose
And eyes are the prettiest brown
She's the darling of my heart
Sweetest girl in town

"Shady Grove is an 18th century folk song popular in the United States.  It is a standard in the repetoire of folk, Celtic and bluegrass musicans.  In most traditional versions, the melody is in a minor key.  However, Bill Monroe's and some subsequent bluegrass versions use a major-key variation.

Many verses exist, 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'.  Some have said that there have been over 300 stanzas written and added as variations."

I love this version by the great Kentucky artist (singer and dulcimer player) Jean Ritchie and also this intense rendition by Quicksilver Messenger Service, which the San Francisco band (John Cippolina, Greg Elmore and David Freiberg) recorded after Nicky Hopkins, the legendary English pianist and "session man"  joined the group in 1969. Quicksilver updated the lyrics as follows:

I used to walk on the city streets
Now I wander far and wide
And I never found my happiness 
Until I moved to the countryside

Now follow me for a quiet day
Out riding on the trails
Away from smog and traffic fog
Where all the pigs have tails

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