Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Annie Gardenbed

I aspire to be known as Annie Gardenbed someday - but I aspire to be and do many things, and I can work on only a few at a time, so if someone else earns the name first, I won't be disappointed. I hope this blog post might help that happen.

Why Annie Gardenbed? Well, it's a little play on the name Johnny Appleseed. I'd like to be like Johnny, except that instead of planting apples, I'd be digging new garden plots and getting new gardeners started.

The popular legend is that Johnny wandered all over planting apple seeds almost anywhere, so that whoever came along later could gather apples. As with any legend, the reality is similar but different: John Chapman was a wandering planter of apples, but he planted nurseries in areas where settlers would soon be arriving, and had the seedlings ready to sell to the settlers for their homestead orchards. Still, the legend captures some of the spirit of his life and legacy, in that he lived extremely simply; he was generous in his dealings; and his undertaking was remarkable enough to earn him the nickname "Johnny Appleseed" by about halfway through his long life. The real story, or what we think we know of it, is richer and stranger than the legend, and definitely worth a look.

When I came up with the idea of "Annie Gardenbed," I knew only the popular legend of Johnny, and a related little song that we often use as a mealtime grace:
Oh, the Lord is good to me,
and so I thank the Lord
for giving me the things I need:
the sun and the rain and the apple seed.
The Lord is good to me.
Alleluia, Amen!
Many people sing "Johnny Appleseed" instead of Alleluia in the last line. The song appears in many places unattributed, as if it were a folk tune going back to the days of Johnny himself, but thanks to Cathy's Grace Notes, and some further sleuthing, I learned that it is a verse from a song written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent for the Walt Disney Music Company in 1946, and sung by Dennis Day in the animated short "Johnny Appleseed" (part of Disney's 1948 release "Melody Time"). The sheet music is still available.

I'm disappointed. Today while washing dishes I came up with a little verse for Annie Gardenbed, but I don't dare tell you what the tune is, or Disney might come after me. I'm not afraid of ordinary mice, but . . .

I think I'll see about a public domain license for my verse, before I post it. That way at least I'll have evidence that I'm not trying to profit from Disney's tune in any way.

Or should I just go ahead an post it anyway?

No comments: