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Info Request: Down in the Willow Garden

29 Dec 99 - 11:52 PM (#155511)
Subject: Info Request: Down in the Willow Garden
From: CeltArctic

Hi guys,

After a long absence, I once again feel the need to seek the imput and infinite knowledge of my friends on the Mudcat.

I recently came across a rendition of this song on a compilation CD of Bluegrass music. I recognized the song, which was called simply, "The Willow Garden" on the CD, as the one Holly Hunter sings in Raising Arizona. I found the lyrics easily enough in the Digitrad, but I was wondering if anyone knows any more about the song.

It seems as if this is a fragment of a longer ballad (not that I mind that at all.) It is similar in storyline to the Pretty Polly songs, except for the reference to the murderer's father.

Has anyone come across more verses, or different verses?

I can't get the tune out of my head, which means I am destined to learn this ballad, but I'd like more info than what I currently have before I do.

Much appreciated,

Moira Cameron Yellowknife, NT.


30 Dec 99 - 12:06 AM (#155518)
Subject: RE: Info Request: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Rick Fielding

I'm sure lots of Catters will have good background on the song.(There are MANY variations) For me however it will always be associated with the great Charlie Monroe.

Rick


30 Dec 99 - 01:17 AM (#155538)
Subject: Lyr Add: ROSE CONLEY (from Grayson and Whitter)
From: Stewie

Here's what I posted to an earlier thread:

Here is a transcription of what is probably the first recorded version of the song which was known either as 'Rose Conley' or 'Rose Connally'. It was recorded in 1927. It is close to the 'Down in the Willow Garden' version in DT. The story is also akin to 'Banks of the Ohio' and 'Knoxville Girl'. Grayson and Whitter also recorded a short version of 'Banks of the Ohio' under the title of 'I'll Never Be Yours'. The song is thought to have originated as an Irish stall ballad, but was mainly collected in the southern mountains of the United States. Along with Eck Robertson and Fiddlin' John Carson, Grayson and Whitter were the first rural recording artists. Grayson, who was blind, played fiddle and Whitter the guitar and harmonica. 'Rose Conley' became a standard and was later recorded by the likes of Doc Watson, Charlie Monroe etc.

ROSE CONLEY

Down in the willow garden
Where me and my love did meet
Oh there we sit a-courting
My love dropped off to sleep

I had a bottle of the burglar's wine
Which my true love did not know
And there I poisoned my own true love
Down under the banks below

I drew my sabre (pron 'saybree') through her
Which was a bloody knife
I threw her in the river
Which was a dreadful sight

My father always taught me
That money would set me free
If I'd murder that pretty little miss
Whose name is Rose Conley

He's sitting now in his own cottage door
A-wiping his weeping eyes
A-looking at his own dear son
Upon the scaffold high

My race is run beneath the sun
Though hell's now waiting for me
I did murder that pretty little miss
Whose name is Rose Conley

Source: G.B. Grayson and Henry Whitter 'Rose Conley'. Recorded Atlanta GA 18 October 1927. Transcribed from 'The Recordings of Grayson & Whitter' County CD 3517. There are some spoken comments between the verses, such as 'poor little girl', but, as they are mainly indecipherable, I have omitted them.


30 Dec 99 - 06:53 AM (#155588)
Subject: RE: Info Request: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Alan Francis

I originally learned the song from a Rambling Jack Elliott album, but it turns up all over the place, including such folk music luminaries as Art Garfunkel ( a somewhat prettified version on Angel Clare, his first solo album ) and the Everly Brothers.

At the back of my mind is a derivation from an early ballad (Child?) under the title "The Oxford Tragedy" - I'll have a dig around on that and post any findings.


30 Dec 99 - 07:19 AM (#155593)
Subject: RE: Info Request: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Alan Francis

Lo and behold, the Oxford Tragedy is in the database - note the similarities and the more circumstantial story.

Mudcat, I luv ya!


30 Dec 99 - 07:25 AM (#155595)
Subject: RE: Info Request: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Alan Francis

And have a look at Oxford City in the database too, it looks as if the Willow Garden is a conflation of several older songs.


30 Dec 99 - 09:54 AM (#155631)
Subject: RE: Info Request: Down in the Willow Garden
From: dick greenhaus

And, of course, the tune is good old Rosin the Beau.


30 Dec 99 - 10:30 AM (#155642)
Subject: RE: Info Request: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Steve Latimer

I started a thread a long time ago wondering about the meaning of this song. Sorry, I'm not a blue clicky thing guy or I'd link to it.

I was talking to my uncle about it a few weeks ago and he thinks that Rose Connelly was a peasant girl put in "the family way' by the narrator of the song, who would have been of a higher social status, perhaps even an English land owner in Ireland, Rose being native Irish. The father basically says to get rid of the "problem" if he wishes to not be driven from the family and it's fortune, of course the mistake was in getting caught. Apparently there are many songs based on this theme.


30 Dec 99 - 01:14 PM (#155704)
Subject: RE: Info Request: Down in the Willow Garden
From: Allan S.

TOm Paley once sung it " If I would kill that sweet little girl that looks so much like me" Could this mean that he was in love with his own sister, or did not know that was his sister? Was the girl fathered by his Dad. THerefore the relationship was insestuous??


30 Dec 99 - 03:37 PM (#155767)
Subject: RE: Info Request: Down in the Willow Garden
From: CeltArctic

I tend to agree with Steve about the storyline of this ballad. The incest story is often simply an extension of the more basic one.

I looked up the Oxford songs, as suggested by Alan (thanks for steering me towards two more great ballads to add to my 'to learn' list; and thanks to the Digitrad for supplying tunes!) I can see the similar themes.

I guess it's the reference to the father in the 'Willow Garden' that sets this ballad apart from the others. I don't recall coming across that element before.