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Wildwood Flower by The Carter Family

Album: Wildwood FlowerReleased: 1928
  • "Wildwood Flower" was first recorded by The Carter Family, the first family of American folk music. According to the biography Anchored In Love, the song was one of ten they recorded on May 10, 1928; they were paid $150 advance royalties for the session by Victor Records, for whom they had first recorded on August 1, 1927.
  • The British Library holds a copy of the sheet music which is credited thus: WILDWOOD FLOWER Words and Music by A.P. Carter, published by Southern Music Publishing Co., Inc of New York. Copyright 1930 and 1955 by Peer International Corporation of New York. It retailed for 60c.
    The Library also holds another copy which is credited: Written and Composed by M. Singleton and J. Kennedy, Recorded by Nana Mouskouri on Fontana, published by Flamingo Music Co Ltd of London; Sole Selling Agents: Francis, Day & Hunter Ltd; Copyright M.R.C. Music Inc, of Chicago, 1962; also Editions Radar of Amsterdam, Holland and Flamingo Music Co Ltd of London. This version retailed for 2s6d.

    This is not the case of two songs with the same name - there are many songs called "Doctor, Doctor" for example - there are slight variations in both the music and the lyrics but they are the same song. A. P. Carter died in 1960, so the new "writers" simply put their names to this slightly different arrangement and claimed it as theirs. However, Carter himself did not write the song; although The Carter Family should be given credit both for their arrangement and for popularizing "Wildwood Flower," it was actually written by Maud Irving and Joseph Philbrick Webster as "I'll Twine 'Mid The Ringlets." As revealed in research by E.M. Bram, "Maud Irving" was likely a pseudonym for J. William Van Namee, a poet who sometimes used the female name when his works were published in magazines targeted to women.

    Nobody can copyright the original "I'll Twine Mid the Ringlets" since it is already in the public domain, but Carter, having changed the song with different lyrics (with or without a slightly different tune) has created a derivative work so the Carters could copyright their derivative work "Wildwood Flower." Carter's copyright cannot stop anyone from copying, singing, or playing "I'll Twine Mid the Ringlets," but it can bar anyone from copying their specific derivative work "Wildwood Flower" without permission.
  • "Wildwood Flower" was performed and recorded countless times by The Carter Family, and later by Mother Maybelle And The Carter Sisters. The song has been widely recorded by many artists, the aforementioned Nana Mouskouri also recorded it in French. And, perhaps most famously, Woody Guthrie stole the melody for "The Sinking Of The Reuben James." (thanks, Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3)
  • Let's have a look at the Carter Family Tree. The Carter Family includes A.P. Carter, his wife Sara Carter, his sister-in-law and Sara’s cousin Maybelle Carter. Two of A.P. and Sara's children - Joe Carter and Janette Carter - are country singers too. Maybelle had three daughters who also entered the country music business, and performed with her for a time: Anita Carter, June Carter Cash, and Helen Carter. June Carter and her first husband, country singer Carl Smith, were the parents of country singer Carlene Carter. June was also the mother of country singer-songwriter Rosie Nix Adams by her second husband, Edwin "Rip" Nix. June's third husband was country legend Johnny Cash. They were the parents of singer, songwriter, and producer John Carter Cash. Johnny was also the father of country singer Rosanne Cash from his first marriage to Vivian Liberto.
  • Reese Witherspoon performed this song for the Walk the Line soundtrack. She played June Carter Cash in the 2005 movie alongside Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash.
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Comments: 3

I'll Twine mid the ringlets of my raven black hair. (remember the song is about flowers, she twines the flowers in her raven black hair)
THE MYRTLE SO BRIGHT WITH AN EMERALD HUE (Crape Myrtles are usually pink but there are also white and Lilac ones that grow to be trees)
it is indeed a great song when the words are correct. Suzy Bogguss does a really nice redition of this song. Here's the song Suzy sings...

Wildwood Flower
I'LL TWINE 'MID THE RINGLETS
(Maud Irving and J.P. Webster)

I will twine mid my ringlets of raven black hair
the lilies so pale and the roses so fair
and the myrtle so bright with an emerald hue
the pale amaryillis and violets so blue
i will dance i will sing and my laugh will be gay
I'll cease this wild weeping drive sorrow away
tho my heart is now breaking, he'll never know
his name made me tremble, my pale cheeks to glow

he told me he loved me and promised to love
through ill and misfortunes all others above
now another has won him, oh misery to tell
he left me in silence no word of farewell
he taught me to love him, he called me his flower
that blossomed for him all the brighter each hour
but i awoke from my dreaming, my idol was clay
my visions of love have all faded away

I'll think of him never, I'll be wildly gay
I'll charm every heart and the crowd i will sway
I'll live yet to see him regret the dark hour
he won and neglected the frail wildwood flower
Candi - Donna, Tx
A myrtle is a kind of tree that flowers in September. It grows in the southern US.Jo - Memphis, Tn, Tn
I read the lyrics to the song and I'm puzzled by the word mirtle. Can't find the word in any dictionary. Thought it might be some type of flower "and the mirtles so bright with the emerald dew". And the opening lyrics "I'll twine with my mingles" is a phrase I'm not familiar with. Beautiful song however.Alan - Sault Ste. Marie, On