Shady Grove (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Shady Grove" is a traditional Appalachian folk song[1] (Roud 4456),[2] believed to have originated in eastern Kentucky around the beginning the 20th century.[3] The song was popular among old-time musicians of the Cumberlands before being widely adopted in the bluegrass repertoire.[4] Many variants of "Shady Grove" exist (up to 300 stanzas by the early 21st century).[5]

The lyrics describes "the true love of a young man's life and his hope they will wed,"[6] and it is sometimes identified as a courting song.[7]

Link to "Matty Groves"[edit]

The Dorian mode melody was first published as "Shady Grove" in the Journal of American Folklore in 1915,[8] but it was traditionally used in Appalachia for the ballad Matty Groves, as sung by traditional singers including Sheila Kay Adams ("Lady Margaret")[9] and Dillard Chandler ("Mathie Groves"). This suggests that the melody may originate in England or Scotland.[citation needed] The fact that "Shady Grove" and "Matty Groves" share a tune suggests that "Shady Grove" is a variant of "Matty Groves".[citation needed] There is also speculation that the name Shady Grove may be a place-name, a woman's name or nickname, or possibly a mondegreen.[10]

Popular versions[edit]

Doc Watson helped popularize "Shady Grove", after presumably learning it from Jean Ritchie, who in turn learned the song from her father.[11]

Fairport Convention released a popular version of Matty Groves in 1969 using the traditional "Shady Grove" tune on their album Liege and Lief. The tune was also used by folk duo John Roberts and Tony Barrand for "The False Lady", a variant of "Young Hunting".

"Shady Grove" has been recorded by numerous artists, including Jean Ritchie, the Kingston Trio, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, Mudcrutch, Bill Monroe, Billy Strings, Suzy Bogguss, Crooked Still, Taj Mahal, Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley, Blood Oranges, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Chieftains, Uncle Sinner, Jayke Orvis, and Camper Van Beethoven.[12][13][14][15][16][17]


One score is as follows:[18][12]

\new ChordNames \chordmode {
  \set chordChanges = ##t
  a4:m a4:m |%1
  g4 g4     |%2
  a4:m a4:m |%3
  a4:m a4:m |%4
  a4:m a4:m |%5
  g4 g4     |%6
  a4:m g4   |%7
  a4:m a4:m |%8
\new Staff \relative c''{
\key a \dorian
\time 2/4
\repeat volta 2 { %start repeat
   a8 a16 a a8 a16 a |%1
   b8 a g4           |%2
   a8 a16 a c8 d     |%3
   e4 e4             |%4
   g8. g16 e8 e      |%5
   d8 b16 a g4       |%6
   a8 b8 d8 b8       |%7
   a4 a4             |%8
  } %end repeat


  1. ^ Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians as Sung by Jean Ritchie (University Press of Kentucky, 2d ed. 1997), p. 34.
  2. ^ "Welcome to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library". Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  3. ^ "Far in the Mountains : Volumes 3 & 4". Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  4. ^ Jean Ritchie, Jean Ritchie's Swapping Song Book (University Press of Kentucky (1999), pp. 34-37 & Charles Wolfe forward.
  5. ^ Fiona Ritchie & Doug Orr (2014). Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. xv, 184-5, 358. ISBN 978-1-4696-1822-7.
  6. ^ Fiona Ritchie & Doug Orr (2014). Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. xv, 183, 358. ISBN 978-1-4696-1822-7.
  7. ^ Ray Allen, Gone to the Country: The New Lost City Ramblers and the Folk Music Revival (University of Illinois Press, 2010), p. 34.
  8. ^ "Shady Grove". Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  9. ^ "Sheila Kay Adams - Little Margaret, by Various Artists". Alan Lomax Collection. Retrieved 2021-10-27.
  10. ^ Spiegel, Max. "Origins: 'Shady Grove' a mondegreen ?". Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Shady Grove, Version 5- Jean Ritchie". Bluegrass Messengers.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ a b George Vincent. "Shady Grove Chords". Folk & Bluegrass Chord Book. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Shady Grove". Die Augenweide: The Byrds Lyrics Page. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Shady Grove: Quicksilver Messenger Service". Genius. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  15. ^ Original Folkways Recordings of Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley, 1960-1962, Smithsonian Folkways.
  16. ^ Michael Erlewine (1997). All Music Guide to Country: The Experts' Guide to the Best Recordings in Country Music. Hal Leonard.
  17. ^ Lindsay Planer. "Quicksilver Messenger Service: Shady Grove". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Shady Grove". Mudcat Café. Retrieved 8 October 2017.

External links[edit]