Wildwood Flower

Composer: Traditional / A.P. Carter / Maud Irving / J.P. Webster

Jerry Garcia

info Good Old Boys Live: Drink Up And Go Home, Good Old Boys, 2018


no info Carter Family, 1928
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Played by Jerry Garcia, Marshall Leicester and Robert Hunter at the Carlos Bookstall in San Carlos in July 1961. Played by the Good Old Boys, with Jerry Garcia sitting in, in 1975.

The lyrics used by Garcia on the San Carlos tape vary in small details from the Carter Family version and are as follows;

I will twine with my mingles and [waving] black hair
With the roses so red and the lilies so fair
And the meadow so bright with it's emerald hue
The pale and the leader and eyes look [so] blue

I will dance, I will sing and my laugh shall be gay
I will charm every heart, in his crown I will sway
I woke from all dreaming, all idols was clay
All portions of love then had all flown away

But he told me to love him and promised to love
And to cherish me over all others above
My poor heart is wondering no misery can tell
I'm left with no warning, no word of farewell

Well you told me you love me and called me your flower
That was blooming to cheer you through life's dreary hour
I long to see him [and regret] life's dark hour
He's gone and neglected this pale wildwood flower.

This song is often credited to A. P. Carter on LP/CDs. However Maybelle Carter recalled hearing the song, sung by her grandmother, when she was a child. It's thought that a number of existing songs provided source material for Wildwood Flower. One major source for some of the lyrics is an 1860 song written by Maud Irving and J.P. Webster called I'll Twine Mid The Ringlets. The strange opening line of Wildwood Flower is thought to be based on a mis-hearing of the first line of I'll Twine Mid The Ringlets Another song that is sometimes suggested as a source for parts of the song is The Pale Amaryllis. However it is the Carter Family version of the song, first recorded in 1928, that forms the basis of subsequent versions.

The lyrics of I'll Twine Mid The Ringlets are;

I'll twine 'mid the ringlets of my raven black hair
The lilies so pale and the roses so fair
The myrtle so bright with an emerald hue
And the pale aronatus with eyes of bright blue.

I'll sing and I'll dance, my laugh shall be gay
I'll cease this wild weeping, drive sorrow away.
Tho' my heart is now breaking, he never shall know
That his name made me tremble and my pale cheeks to glow.

I'll think of him never, I'll be wildly gay
I'll charm ev'ry heart, and the crowd I will sway.
I'll live yet to see him regret the dark hour
When he won, then neglected, the frail wildwood flower.

He told me he loved me, and promis'd to love
Trough ill and misfortune, all others above
Another has won him; ah, misery to tell
He left me in silence, no word of farewell.

He taught me to love him, he call'd me his flower
That blossom'd for him all the brighter each hour
But I woke from my dreaming, my idol was clay
My visions of love have all faded away.