Matty Groves

To finish our ‘Daily Traditional Folk Song – Summer 2012’ series, we return to the work of the late great Doc Watson. Here Doc sings a folk song known in North America as ‘Matty Groves’ (it’s from his 1966 album ‘Home Again’); in the British Isles it is usually known as ‘Little Musgrave’. There are excellent recordings of the British variant by Planxty, Martin Simpson, and Nic Jones; Jean Ritchie also recorded the song as ‘Little Musgrave’, which goes to show that these songs can’t be neatly divided into ‘British’ and ‘American’ versions! But, as one of the YouTube comments says, there is not the tiniest bit of pretension in Doc’s voice, and so I’m very pleased to have him bring our summer home with this old song.

This song is very old; there’s a version of it on a broadside ballad sheet in the Bodleian Library in Oxford dating back to 1658. Mudcat has a good discussion of ‘Little Musgrave’ on this thread (and there are many links). Wikipedia will give you the Coles Notes version here!

I’ve already mentioned Doc Watson in our posts from July 20th and August 13th; there are very few musicians for whom I have a greater respect and admiration. Rest in peace and rise in glory, Doc.

And since this is the final post in our ‘Daily Traditional Folk Song – Summer 2012’ series, can I just say how much I’ve enjoyed searching out the posts and doing the research about the songs; many of them I knew anyway, but some I didn’t, and I’ve learned a lot in the process. And thank you to all who have started following my blog and have left comments on the songs; I’m glad you enjoyed them.

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Tim Chesterton

Family man; pastor of St. Margaret's Anglican Church on Ellerslie Road, Edmonton; storyteller; traditional folk musician and occasional songwriter. Email me at timchesterton at outlook dot com.

2 thoughts on “Matty Groves”

  1. I’m glad you liked the songs, Mimi, and I’m glad to have helped the sales figures of some of these great musicians!

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