Shady Grove (song)

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"Shady Grove" is a traditional Appalachian folk song,[1] common in the repertoire of bluegrass and old-time musicians of the Cumberlands.[2] Sung by both traditional folk musicians and folk revival musicians, it is sometimes identified as a courting song.[3] The song describes "the true love of a young man's life and his hopes they will wed."[4]

"Shady Grove" originates from the "Matty Groves," a traditional ballad from the British Isles variously identified as English or Scottish in origin, and dating to at least the seventeenth century. The song appears as "Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard" in Francis James Child's anthology of ballads. The song traveled to the southern Appalachians around the time of the American Civil War and subsequently gained popularity. Many variants (up to 300 stanzas) exist.[4]

The song "has been recorded by a striking assortment of artists, including Jean Ritchie, the Kingston Trio, Jerry Garcia, Bill Monroe, Crooked Still, Taj Mahal, and The Chieftains."[4] A recording by Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley appears on Original Folkways Recordings: 1960–1962 (1994),[5] while a version by Blood Oranges appears on Corn River (1991).[6]


The score is as follows:[7][8]

\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. ^ Jean Ritchie, Jean Ritchie's Swapping Song Book (University Press of Kentucky (1999), pp. 34-37 & Charles Wolfe forward.
  3. ^ Ray Allen, Gone to the Country: The New Lost City Ramblers and the Folk Music Revival (University of Illinois Press, 2010), p. 34.
  4. ^ a b c Fiona Ritchie & Doug Orr, Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), p. xv, 183, 358.
  5. ^ Original Folkways Recordings of Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley, 1960-1962, Smithsonian Folkways.
  6. ^ Michael Erlewine, All Music Guide to Country: The Experts' Guide to the Best Recordings in Country Music (Hal Leonard, 1997).
  7. ^ " lyrics: SHADY GROVE (E minor)". Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  8. ^ George, Vincent. "Shady Grove Chords". Folk & Bluegrass Chord Book. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 

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