Friday, 20 March 2015

The safer side of an English country garden

One of my Facebook pals posted a video of "Country Gardens", probably to herald the coming of spring, which showed up this afternoon, but was nowhere to be seen when younger daughter checked the front door.

When I hear it, I think of Demeter who told me of the trips back and forth between England and Kenya where she grew up. It used to come on over the loudspeakers and everyone would troop down to the dining room.

I became intrigued because I was puzzled why it seemed that there are few recordings of British singers doing this song. Jimmie Rodgers (the second of that name, and no relation to the first) had a hit with it in the UK, but he was very American. When you look up the sung version on YouTube, there seem to be rather a lot of Australians.

When I looked up the history of the song, I found Percy Grainger's arrangement for piano, made popular in 1918. (He was born in Australia, and died in the United States.) The tune apparently has been around for at least three centuries -- associated with Morris dancing, among other things -- but the words Jimmie Rodgers sings were written in 1958 by some fellow named Robert M Jordan who probably isn't English. Apparently, cardinals, tanagers, and fireflies are not things you'd find in an English country garden.

Perhaps it's safer to stick with the instrumental.

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