Among many other things I am a lover of the traditional songs & tunes of the British Isles. I released an album in December called Constant Companion which is a collection of some of my favourites. I’m doing a series of blogs about each of the songs on the album & this one is about Matty Groves.
I first heard Matty Groves on the Fairport Convention ‘Liege & Leaf’ album which is a classic English folk-rock album from 1969 which heralded the folk-rock movement of the 70s. It pretty much has everything an English folk song could have. Love, class, snobbery, murder, grief & a tragic ending.
It’s an interesting one to place in a set as the ending is shocking & terrible but it still has relevance today.
Matty Groves is a Border ballad probably originating in Northern England that describes an adulterous tryst between a man and a woman that is ended when the woman’s husband discovers and kills them. This song exists in many textual variants and has several variant names. The song dates to at least the 17th century, and under the title Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard is one of the Child Ballads.
If you want to hear more of my album, which was reviewed by Songlines & fRoots (but I’m not going to tell you what they said), you can follow this link