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Sung by both traditional folk musicians and folk revival musicians, it is sometimes identified as a courting song. The song describes "the true love of a young man's life and his hope they will wed."
Many variants of "Shady Grove" exist (up to 300 stanzas by the early 21st century). It has been recorded by numerous artists, including Jean Ritchie, the Kingston Trio, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, Mudcrutch, Bill Monroe, Crooked Still, Taj Mahal, Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley, Blood Oranges, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Chieftains, and Camper Van Beethoven.
The tune of "Shady Grove" was re-used by the group Fairport Convention in 1969 to accompany the traditional British ballad "Matty Groves", on their seminal 1969 folk-rock album Liege and Lief; apart from this usage, the two songs are unrelated.
*****REVISED March 13, 2019 - SR****