The Garden Song has been sung over several generations. It’s a tune that’s had a long life, and has been covered by several world-renowned folk singers and even performed by the Muppets!
The man responsible for it, singer/songwriter David Mallett, originally wrote the song in 1975. He visited the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum in Hadley for their Wednesday Folk Traditions concert series, and Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan brings us the story.
Hear the folk troubadour perform Somewhere in Time in a digital exclusive segment.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Several generations of children have grown up singing “The Garden Song.” It’s a tune that’s had a long life and has been covered by several world-renowned folk singers and even performed by the Muppets!
The man responsible for it, singer-songwriter David Mallett, originally wrote the song in 1975. He visited the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum in Hadley for their Wednesday Folk Traditions concert series, and Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan brings us the story.
Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: It’s been a few years since he’s been back here, and generations of fans wasted no time finding what they hoped would be the best seat in the house.
The he in question is folk singer and songwriter David Mallett, and the here is a sunken performance area on the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum property in Hadley.
And while these days it may appear to be some kind of storybook underground garden, it didn’t always look this way.
Brian Bender, Wednesday Folk Traditions: This is an old foundation of a house, the whole venue. It becomes kind of like a natural amphitheater that was built into an old, overgrown foundation of an old building.
So, it’s just very unique, I think.
Brian Sullivan: The evening is part of their summer series, known as Wednesday Folk Traditions, and it’s been happening here for over 40 years.
For some people, it’s their first time here, as they survey the lay of the land and figure out where they’ll be sitting. Others are veterans of this venue and are thrilled to be here in time for the sound check.
Whoever it is, and whatever their reason for being here, this night is indicative of the ideal summer experience for folks in this part of Hampshire County.
Monica Desmarais, South Hadley Resident: I guess it is. Thursday nights in the Commons, listen to music, going to different artists. This is Wednesday Night Folk Music.
So, it’s fun to do.
Diane Gumaer, Sunderland Resident: It does sort of feel like the garden space is very nice to have music and — and hearing the music all around. It’s kind of on the list of venues that we enjoy to go to in the summertime, especially now we’re looking for outside places — and this hits all the good points.
Brian Sullivan: Those good points include viewing the show from here.
And even from back here.
David Mallett, Folk Singer-Songwriter: ♫ Right now, I’m working hard. ♫
Brian Sullivan: I was lucky to get here early enough for these backstage seats.
One thing I’ve noticed is, there doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house. It’s an intimate setting with great music, and that’s why so many people keep coming back here.
And if it’s intimate for the audience, then the same can be said for the performers who get to experience watching and hearing the audience sing their songs back to them as they’re playing.
David Mallett: There’s nothing like it. Nothing like it. It’s — it’s a — it’s a pat on the back, a tap on the shoulder, and sort of it makes it all worth it when somebody else sings your song.
Especially the audience, because there’s something about certain songs that people love to join in on, you know? And it brings us together when we do that.
Brian Sullivan: And of all the sing-along songs, there is one that stands out in particular.
Diane Gumaer: His song that was — is legendary is called “The Garden Song.” And it’s — the line is “inch by inch, row by row. I’m going to make my garden grow.” You’ll h — I’m sure he’ll play it.
David Mallett: ♫ Inch by inch, row by row. I’m gonna make this garden grow. ♫
Brian Sullivan: Sure enough, he did. Written while Mallett was still in his early twenties, “The Garden Song” may be responsible for helping to blow the winds of fortune in the young musician’s favor, as it was recorded by such artists as John Denver; Pete Seeger; Peter, Paul and Mary; and even the Muppets.
Now, after spending parts of six decades as a professional folk musician with over 15 albums to his credit, Mallett still sees a place for this genre all these years later.
David Mallett: I think acoustic music is having sort of a rebirth right now because it’s genuine and people are looking for something genuine.
And folk music is the music of social conscience, too. And I think that’s part of the reason we see a little bit of resurgence right now.