Saturday, April 23, 2016
Any way, this post has been on my mind for some time and in draft. Back in 1971 or 1972, my grand daddy, Wesley "Bane" Boyles came to live with us for a time. The man lived to play music. Here is a link to his story. He would pick up his fiddle and Momma, at the time, would play guitar with him...... sometimes. But she was busy running a household. He got it in his mind, while he was living with us, to teach me to play a mandolin and teach me to play a few songs so he would have someone to play music with.
I was a teenager....I was more interested in Creedance Clearwater Revival than bluegrass music. I hated what I called, "the nose twanger singers" of blue grass, people who sounded like they were singing out their nose in a high pitch. No offense, some people say it's not bluegrass with out it, but it's never been my favorite bluegrass. The playing may be excellent but the singing hurt my ears.
He invited some folks over to play and that's what they sounded like. He could not convince me to learn anything until mom said bluegrass did not have to sound like that to be bluegrass. That the old time music she remembered did not sound like that and I didn't have to sing through my nose. So he tried to accommodate me and to convince me, taught me a few songs that more modern day folk singers had recently recorded at that time.
He gave me a mandolin and when I would not practice, took it back. That was the end of the lessons and then I think he moved to Bristol that year. Gosh I wish I could go back, but I was a dumb kid and the modern world was calling.
I remember the names of three songs he tried to teach me, Fair and Tender Ladies, Copper Kettle and Shady Grove. I don't remember how Fair and Tender Ladies goes, that was the one he had me working on when I quit...but I continued to sing Copper Kettle and Shady Grove to my kids as lullabies. Poor kids!!!
Through the years, I've heard versions of these songs and realized my grand pap taught me a different version of both of these songs. Since he was at the Bristol Sessions and one of the original old time, old timers...I thought I ought to share these before I go.
So about a year ago, I recorded myself singing Copper Kettle. The versions out there changed the dialect and with that changed the words and the tune. I didn't know even writing it down, how to get that across. Now I'm not a singer, maybe in my youth I could carry a tune.
Today I'm a bathtub baritone, sounds great under water. I was going to re do this but since I've got this hearing, balance problem, losing hearing in my right ear, it's much WORSE than it was a year ago! I put what I recorded a year ago up on You Tube last night. I'm sorry you have to suffer through it but, I overlaid pictures to watch on the video as I'm singing to make it a bit more tolerable. I hope someone that can sing can bring it out and sing it as I learned it.
Now as for Shady Grove, Shady Grove is a popular tune the only difference is the story behind it and the words. I'm just writing the lyrics down he taught me and what he told me about the song.
Grand daddy Bane called Shady Grove a "roaming dandy" or "ramblin man" song. Basically he warned me if any feller sings it to me...RUN. They ain't gonna be faithful! That's why I think there are so many versions of the lyrics. They have been personalized to fit the singer. He even taught me changing lyrics when you learn a young lady's eye color. Get their eye color right and sing it to them, with the catchy tune, it would make them swoon, I reckon.
Just as he knew about moonshine, he'd know about this one TOO! I'm sure from the experience of being a rambling music man! Think about it...what is the significance of a "shady grove" other than a place for lovers to meet away from prying eyes?
Shady Grove - Lyrics
Chorus: Shady Grove, my little miss,
Shady Grove, I say,
Shady Grove, My little love
Better be on my way.
Went to see my Shady Grove,
She's standing, in the door.
Shoes and Stocking's in her hand
Little bare feet on the floor.
Next 3 are changing verses were based on a girl's eye color. If you were singing for your gal you knew their eye color.
Cheeks are Red as a blooming rose,
Eyes the darkest brown,
She's the prettiest thing I know,
The prettiest thing in town.
Cheeks are red as a blooming rose,
Eyes the prettiest green,
She's the prettiest thing I know.
The prettiest I've ever seen.
Cheeks are red as a blooming rose.
Eyes the prettiest blue.
She's the prettiest thing I know.
The prettiest to be true.
Every time I pass this way,
It's always dark and cloudy.
Every time I see my girl,
I always tell her howdy.
Wish I had a pig in a pen,
Corn to feed him on.
I'd give it to my Shady Grove
To feed him when I'm gone.
(This one about a pig, I was amazed to hear the Grateful Dead do a version of a song with this in it. But I originally heard it as part of Shady Grove.)
Peaches in the summertime.
Apples in the Fall.
If I can't have my Shady Grove,
I want no love at all.
So there you go. I hope others are taking my examples and begin to think about sharing some of the Appalachian songs, culture, story and traditions that are passing out of time that they know. If I could go back...I'd pick that old man's brain for the knowledge that went with him when he passed in a heart beat. But I will share what little of it I did get. P.S. If anyone performs these songs please record it for me and send me a link!!! THANKS.
I am the Appalachian Heart Wood Blogger. I am interested in saving the history of our Appalachian region as well as our placement into the future. I am a 9th generation Appalachian woman on my father's side and 11th generation on my mother's side. One grandfather is recorded in these mountains in the English records in 1753. We have been here a long, long time. Our language, our culture is celebrated yet changing. My blog called Appalachian Heart Wood is where I will expound my take on all this change and how our roots run deep in Appalachian history and culture.. I might also from time to time expound on the politics of the day in Virginia. Follow me on Twitter @AppalHeartwood