Matty Groves

Lyrics: Traditional
Music: Traditional

Sandy Troy in his book "Captain Trips" quotes Tom Constanten as saying that in November 1961 Jerry Garcia played at the "Groovy Conclave" at the Chateau in Menlo Park:

"Jerry was playing acoustic guitar and singing songs like 'Matty Groves,' 'Long Black Veil,' and 'I Was Born in East Virginia.' He was very much into his folk thing, the oral tradition of folk music where songs are passed on and consequently there are different versions of the same tune. He did the Greenback Dollar version of 'I Was Born in East Virginia.'"
Another reference is in David Browne's book "So Many Roads: The Life And Times Of The Grateful Dead":
"Soon afterwards, at a party in East Palo Alto, Lesh became entranced as he watched Garcia sing and play 'Matty Groves', the old English folk ballad. ... 'It was absolutely operatic,' Lesh says. 'It was a deadpan delivery and minimal guitar picking, but the whole thing was mesmerising.'"
No tapes or setlists exist of Jerry playing Matty Groves:
A holiday, a holiday
And the first one of the year
Lord Donald's wife came into the church
The Gospel for to hear

And when the meeting it was done
She cast her eyes about
And there she saw little Matty Groves
Walking in the crowd

Come home with me, little Matty Groves
Come home with me tonight
Come home with me, little Matty Groves
And sleep with me 'til light

Oh, I can't come home, I won't come home
And sleep with you tonight
By the rings on your fingers
I can tell you are Lord Donald's wife

But if I am Lord Donald's wife
Lord Donald's not at home
He is out in the far cornfields
Bringing the yearlings home

And a servant who was standing by
And hearing what was said
He swore Lord Donald he would know
Before the sun would set

And in his hurry to carry the news
He bent his breast and ran
And when he came to the broad mill stream
He took off his shoes and swam

Little Matty Groves, he lay down
And took a little sleep
When he awoke, Lord Donald
Was standing at his feet

Saying, how do you like my feather bed
And how do you like my sheets
How do you like my lady
Who lies in your arms asleep

Oh, well I like your feather bed
And well I like your sheets
But better I like your lady gay
Who lies in my arms asleep

Well, get up, get up, Lord Donald cried
Get up as quick as you can
It'll never be said in fair England
I slew a naked man

Oh, I can't get up, I won't get up
I can't get up for my life
For you have two long bi-hand swords
And I got a pocket knife

Well, it's true I have two bi-hand swords
And they cost me deep in the purse
But you will have the better of them
And I will have the worse

And you will strike the very first blow
And strike it like a man
I will strike the very next blow
And I'll kill you if I can

So Matty struck the very first blow
And he hurt Lord Donald sore
Lord Donald struck the very next blow
And Matty struck no more

And then Lord Donald he took his wife
And he sat her on his knee
Saying, who do you like the best of us
Matty Groves or me

And then up spoke his own dear wife
Never heard to speak so free
I'd rather a kiss from dead Matty's lips
Than you or your finery

Lord Donald, he jumped up
And loudly he did bawl
He struck his wife right through the heart
And pinned her against the wall

A grave, a grave, Lord Donald cried
To put these lovers in
But bury my lady at the top
For she was of noble kin


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