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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Chris Seymour Origins/Versions: Matty Groves / Mattie Groves (60* d) RE: Matty Groves 05 Dec 99

This is one of my favorite ballads. I sing the version that Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl "collated" (to quote their liner notes) from mostly Nova Scotian sources and recorded on their Folkways album "Two Way Trip."

(If I wanted to post the lyrics to the DT for other folks to use, how would I do that?)

What I find fascinating is the character of Lady Barnard/Donald/Banner/whatever. She is clearly the mover of the story -- in most cases, she picks up Matty at church, persuades him to come home with him despite the danger, and in some versions as cited above, even dissuades him from listening to a warning of her husband's arrival. What was her life like that she wanted to take such a deadly risk and what was she like that she could convince Matty to take the same risk. And then to defy her husband after he'd killed her lover -- I'm awe-struck at the thought. Seems to me you could read the ballad as the story of a very powerful woman trapped in a situation, a time in history when she had little outlet for her power.

On a lighter note, here's the two-verse version of the song, penned, as I was told, by Englishman Stanley Accrington (sung, as is the Fairport version, to the tune of "Shady Grove."

Matty Grove got seduced by a high-class bird She took him home to bed They were at it hammer-and-tongs When the husband come home unexpected

"What the bloody hell's going on here?" he said And he stabbed Matty in the guts "What d'ye think of your loverboy now? he said But she was cheeky so he chopped her head off

I sometimes sing that after doing the Seeger/MacColl version, just for laughs.

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