“Wildwood Flower”, a song written by Alvin Pleasant Delaney Carter (A.P Carter), was first recorded by Carter Family for the Victor label, on May 10, 1928, in Victor Studio, Trinity Baptist Church, 114 N. 5th St., Camden, NJ. At the recording session were: Sara Carter (vocal and auto harp), A.P. Carter (vocal) and Maybelle Carter (vocal and guitar). The song was released on January 4, 1929.
The song is included on the album, All-Time Favorites (Acme Records 1961).
June Carter recorded it between October 2002 and March 2003, the song would be included in her post-album album, Wildwood Flower, (Dualtone 2003), it was June Carter Cash’s last solo album. It was released in 2003 on the Dualtone record label, four months after his death and just a few days before the death of Johnny Cash, who provides backing vocals, making this the final release of his life. The album was produced by her son, John Carter Cash. The album’s opening track, “Keep on the Sunny Side,” was a Carter family anthem that June Carter Cash had previously recorded twice with Johnny Cash: for the 1964 Carter Family album of the same title, and for the album. Johnny Cash from 1974 The Junkie.
The album was released on September 9, 2003, and reached # 33 on the U.S. Top Country Albums charts, and on September 27 reached # 2 on the US Bluegrass Albums charts.
“Wildwood Flower” is a variant of the song “I’ll Twine ‘Mid the Ringlets” published in 1860 by composer Joseph Philbrick Webster, who wrote the music, with lyrics attributed to Maud Irving. Other versions of the song have evolved, such as “The Pale Amaranthus” (collected in Kentucky and North Carolina, reported in 1911), “Raven Black Hair” and “The Pale Wildwood Flower” (collected between 1915 and 1919) and “The Wild Wood Flower Frail “.
A.P. Carter recorded “Wildwood Flower” as his own after the recording of The Carter Family in 1928 (copyrighted on October 20, 1935), but the lyrics are almost identical to “I’ll Twine ‘Mid the Ringlets”. He converted it from a parlor song to a folk performance, and while Carter arguably does not guarantee it, he assigns adaptation status to Carter, so there is a separate grouping for “Wildwood Flower”.
Buddy Starcher 1947 (4 Star Records)
Maple Hill Boys 1949 (Pearl Records)
Hank Thompson and His Brazos Valley Boys with Merle Travis 1955 (Capitol)
Julia Ann Gilmer 1957 (ABC-Paramount)
Anita Carter 1964 (Mercury)
Jim Reeves 1968 (RCA Victor)
Stompin ‘Tom Connors 1971 (Boot Records)
Tom Collins 1972 (Starday Records)
June Carter Cash – Wildwood Flower Lyrics
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 amaryllis 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
Miquel Batlle Garriga