Saturday Single No. 291

A look at this morning’s weather forecast is not encouraging: A chance of showers and thunderstorms this morning, and then showers and thunderstorms this afternoon. If the Texas Gal is to make much progress in the two gardens today, it will be between raindrops and perhaps in wet soil.

Gardens? As in more than one? Yep.

Sometime last summer, the Texas Gal decided that she wanted more space for vegetables during the next gardening season than we’d been taking from the community garden west of the lilac grove. The answer was to have the yardman – when he came to till the community garden this spring – till a section of the lawn for a new garden. There were a couple of considerations when we negotiated that space’s location: I didn’t want it too close the part of the lawn where we sit during our annual picnic, and we had to avoid the diagonal swath of hard-packed gravel barely covered with grass that used to be the driveway.

Eventually, we settled on a section of the lawn about two-thirds of the way toward Lincoln Avenue from the house. That square — twenty-five feet on a side – will be home to sunflowers and corn (new ventures) as well as to potatoes, peppers, cabbages and some of the tomatoes. Those all went in this week, and there’s still some space to fill. But the Texas Gal has yet to plant onions, carrots, green beans, peas, broccoli and summer squash along with flowers to attract bees and I’m not sure what else. She has, over the winter, been collecting a massive supply of seeds for a wide variety of veggies and flowers, and she has a master plan in her head of where all those things will grow.

She is, of course, the moving force behind our gardening. I’m willing to help put up the fences in the springtime. I will run get things she needs from the garage as she plants. I’ll do some weeding and watering as things grow over the summer, and I’ll help pick tomatoes and beans and whatever else we may nurture. Then, I’ll assist with canning the bounty we gather. But were she not here, I would be doing none of those things. She is the gardener; I am not. Gardening, from the planning through the planting through the final harvest, is one of her major sources of joy. Seeing the joy she finds in the garden is one of the major sources of mine.

So, before the rain comes in and turns both plots into muck, let’s look at six random tunes about gardens and settle on the sixth for today’s selection (unless it’s been here before, in which case I’ll skip it and settle on the next.).

First up is “The Garden of England,” Gerry Rafferty’s lament for freedoms waning in England. As the track comes from 1980’s Snakes & Ladders, I have to assume that Rafferty was expressing his opposition to the plans of William Whitelaw as Britain’s Home Secretary (after the election in 1979 of Margaret Thatcher as prime minister). The latter portions of the track offer an excerpt from a speech in which Whitelaw outlined how his Conservative Party intended to deal with juvenile offenders:

We Conservatives have always maintained the need for an experiment with a tougher regime for depriving young football hooligans of their leisure time. I can announce today that the experiment promised in our election manifesto is to begin in Surrey . . .  These will be no holiday camps. We will introduce on a regular basis drill, parades, and inspections . . .  from 6:45 a.m. ’til lights out at 9:30 p.m. Life will be conducted at a brisk tempo.

Then we find “In the Garden” by Susan Tedeschi, a much more pleasant song. Written by C. Austin Miles, the track comes from Tedeschi’s 2002 album, Wait For Me, and notes that “When I wake up in the garden . . .  The sun and moon are always present/there are no more crying people around.” While the lyrics are a bit unfocused and later shift from a gardening metaphor to one based on sailing, either activity would certainly be preferable to a boot camp in Surrey.

Our third stop this morning is one we’ve made before: “Here In The Garden, Part 1,” by Gypsy, the band that started as Minnesota’s Underbeats before heading to Los Angeles in search of gold records. The track notes during its elegiac first half that “Here in the garden/once long ago, there was no need/for men to dwell in a world of dreams.” Unfortunately, the second half of the track is one of those three-minute drum solos that all too many bands thought were essential during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Still, the first half of the track is nice. It comes from Gypsy’s 1971 album In The Garden, the group’s second album.

Our Saturday journey then takes us back to 1929 and the tune “Fatal Flower Garden” by Nelstone’s Hawaiians, a track found on Harry Smith’s massive 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music that tells the tale of a young boy kidnapped by Gypsies.* The group was actually a duo: Hubert Nelson and James D. Touchstone combined their last names and then called themselves Hawaiians because of the so-called Hawaiian-style guitar they played. According to the blog The Old Weird America:

The craze for Hawaiian music in America started in the early 20th century. The exotic sounds of Hawaiian guitars and ukuleles were featured everywhere in pop and mainstream music of that time, and Hawaiian musicians were blending their own styles with jazz and country influences . . . The Hawaiian falsetto singing was echoed by the yodel in the voice of country singers like Jimmie Rodgers and Gene Autry, and steel guitar would soon be an essential part of western swing and modern country music.

*The origins of “Fatal Flower Garden” can be traced, says Wikipedia, to the Thirteenth Century. Generally, the earlier variants of the song are blatantly anti-Semitic and cast the boy as a victim of Jewish ritual murder.

We come next to “Dark Garden,” a track by the group Mama Lion from its 1973 album Give It Everything I’ve Got. It’s a moody piece with what sounds like early synthesizer descants flying in and around Lynn Carey’s vocals. Mama Lion released two albums of competent but hardly ground-breaking rock; its first was Preserve Wildlife in 1972. The group is probably best known, however, for the photo inside the gatefold of its first album showing Carey – a one-time Pet Of The Month for Penthouse magazine – nursing a lion cub.

And we land on the title track from an album I’ve mentioned from time to time and even shared back during the Blogger days: “Whose Garden Was This” by John Denver. An ecological lament, the song was written by folkie Tom Paxton, who included it on his Tom Paxton 6 album in 1970, the same year that Denver recorded his cover. Other versions, according to All-Music Guide, have been recorded by Bobby Vinton and British singer Vera Lynn, and both of those, as well as the Paxton original, can be found at YouTube. But the Denver version remains my favorite, likely because it’s the first one I ever heard, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.


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