Matty Groves Blues

from by Murder Ballads

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Matty Groves Blues
Adapted by Catt Kingsgrave

A holiday, a holiday, you know the first one of the year
Judge Arlen's wife, she went to the church, the Gospel for to hear.

And when the meeting it was done, she took a look around
And oh my soul, that Matty Groves, he came a walking through the crowd.

"Come home with me, pretty Matty. Come on home with me tonight,
Because the sheets are red on my featherbed, and you know I'll treat you right."

"Oh, I can't go home along with you, though you're a lovely sight,
For your diamond ring tells me one thing; that a rich man calls you wife."

"It's true, I am Judge Arlen's wife, but Arlen, he ain't home.
He's gone down to the river town, and won't mind him where I roam."

Little Matty Groves, he lay him down and he took a little sleep
But when he woke, the man of the house was standing at his feet

Saying "How do you like my bed boy, and how d'you like them sheets?
And how do you find that wife of mine who lies right there asleep?"

"Now it's a fine old featherbed, and these sure are fancy sheets
But oh my eyes, she takes the prize though sure she'll cost me steep."

"Get up, get dressed!" Judge Arlen cried, "Get on your feet and stand!
For when you're dead it won't be said that I killed a naked man!"

"No, I can't get up, I won't get up, I can't get up for my life.
For by my word you got two swords, and I've got just this pocket knife."

"Well these swords are long and oh so sharp and they cost me deep in the purse
So you take the one you fancy, son, and you leave me with the worse,

And you'll strike out the first blow, and you strike it like a man
'Cause the second blow is mine to throw, and I'll kill you where you stand!"

Then Matty struck like lightning, cut Arlen straight to the ground
But the Judge's sword had the final word, and little Matty, he stayed down.

Then old Judge Arlen took his wife and he sat her on his knee
Saying "Raise your eyes and choose your prize; that dead man there, or me!"

Well, she gave back a cold, clear smile, and she spoke her mind out free
"I'll take a kiss from dead Matty's lips before you lay your hand to me!"

And then Judge Arlen, up he jumped and loudly he did bawl
And with Matty's knife, he took his wife and he... pinned her to the wall

Old Arlen, he washed up his hands and he rode on back to town
While the servants dug in the river's mud and they laid those lovers down.

Now we could end this story here, and some would call it right
But rivers flood, and that thick black mud, well it don't hold secrets tight.

And the law don't favor lovers; it don't care for jealousy
And the killin' stain don't heed no fame when a guilty man walks free.

House and lands can't hush it when your secrets find the light
And your wealthy kin disown your sin, that rope so taut just can't be bought
So Arlen paid for his hasty blade more dear... than ever he thought!


from Pretty in Scarlet, released November 18, 2014
written by Catt Kingsgrave, based on "Matty Groves," traditional

Catt Kingsgrave: vocals
Adam Fromm: guitar


tags: folk


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Murder Ballads

Original and traditional folk, plus assorted covers from filk to prog to quasi-goth to, yes, murder ballads. (Actual murder not included. Probably.)

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