Shady Grove

Traditional | Roud 4456, Ballad Index SKE57

Lyrics:

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 little girl in town

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

I wish I had a big fine horse
And corn to feed him on
And Shady Grove to stay at home
And feed him while I’m gone

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

Went to see my Shady Grove
She was standing in the door
Her shoes and stockin’s in her hand
And her little bare feet on the floor

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

When I was a little boy
I wanted a Barlow knife
And now I want little Shady Grove
To say she’ll be my wife

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

Kiss from pretty little Shady Grove
Is sweet as cherry wine
And there ain’t no girl in this old world
That’s prettier than mine

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

Wish I had a glass of wine
And bread and meat for two
I’d set it out on a golden plate
And I’d give it all to you

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

Peaches in the summertime
Apples in the fall
If I can’t have little Shady Grove
I don’t want no gal at all

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

If I had a needle and thread
As fine as I can sew
I’d sew my pretty girl to my side
And down the road we go

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

Additional Verses

When I get on the mountain top
Tears don’t fall and blind me
I look back and see her tracks
The girl I left behind me

Every time I go this road
It looks so dark and easy
I look back and see her tracks
And think of a blue-eyed daisy

Cut a banjo from a gourd
String it up with twine
The only song that I can play is
“Wish that gal was mine”

Once I was a little boy
Plaing in the sand
Now I am a great big boy
And think myself a man

Some come here to fiddle and dance
Some come here to tarry
Some come here to fiddle and dance
I come here to marry

Every night when I come home
My wife I try to please her
The more I try, the worse it gets
Damned if I don’t leave her

Fly around, my blue-eyed girl
Fly around, my daisy
Fly around, my blue-eyed girl
Nearly drive me crazy

The very next time I go that road
And it don’t look so dark and grazy
The very next time I come that road
Stop and see my daisy

I once had a mulie cow
Mulie when she was born
Took a jay-bird forty year
To fly from horn to horn

Featured On:
Old Time American Music

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About the Song:

Few songs are as synonymous with the Appalachian Mountains as “Shady Grove”. This synonymity is partially thanks to its melody being in the Dorian mode. Dorian melodies were a popular practice in the medieval English music so many Appalachian songs derive from. This includes “Fair Margaret and Sweet William”, the English ballad from which “Shady Grove” gets its melody, albeit sung much slower.

An early appearance of the lyrics for Shady Grove can be found in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 28, published in 1915. It notes that the lyrics themselves were collected a decade earlier in East Tennessee. Fiona Ritchie and Doug and Darcy Orr claim it has over 300 verses associated with it in their 2021 book Wayfaring Stranger, 2nd Ed.  According to Mike Yates in the liner notes of Far in the Mountains, Vol. 3, a compilation of Yates’ 1979-83 Appalachian Collection, “‘Shady Grove’ probably began life in Eastern Kentucky around the beginning of the 20th century.”

Related songs and variants: “Betty Ann”, “Fair Margaret and Sweet William”