Under the Greenwood Tree, from As You Like It (Day 61)

Shakespeare by David LevineDay 61 of Project 194 finds us still enjoying the “peaceful, easy feeling” of the Forest of Arden. Like yesterday’s post, this is a composer’s demo of music that I created for the 1998 production of As You Like It at The University of the Arts.

Under the greenwood tree,
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird’s throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

Who doth ambition shun,
And loves to live i’ the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleased with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

A moment later in the scene, another character sings a sarcastic parody of this song, improvising a mocking text to fit the same melody:

If it do come to pass
That any man turn ass,
Leaving his wealth and ease
A stubborn will to please,
Ducdamè, ducdamè, ducdamè:
Here shall he see
Gross fools as he,
An if he will come to me.

I can see how director David Howey sensed the spirit of the Woodstock generation in a song like this one. It invites the listener to “drop out” of the rat race, shunning ambition to lie under a tree and listen to the birds sing. The play is a pastorale, a fantasy of courtly characters in a rural setting, and this morning it makes me recall Alec Wilder’s lovely pop song, “It’s So Peaceful In The Country,” with its memorable bridge:

City living is a pretty living
It’s so full of unexpected thrills
But there’s too much stone
Too much telephone
There’s too much of everything but trees and hills.

If you missed them, these are the songs already posted on Project 194; the links on the right are songs chosen at random from previous posts. Want to contribute to my interactive composition, “Hear My Song?” Read more here. Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up here!

One thought on “Under the Greenwood Tree, from As You Like It (Day 61)

  1. Pingback: Wedding Anthem, from As You Like It (Day 62) | Notes from a SAVI Savant

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