Homegrown -- The Story
If there’s a song I’ve played more than any other, it’s probably “Homegrown.” It appeared on the beloved The Natives album that Dan Hansen put together nearly fifty years ago. We’ve remade it this year, featuring brother Rick Sheehy with his original harmonies and a few other new twists.
I moved to Washington Island, Wisconsin in 1972, taking up residence in an old yellow house with Rick and two other friends. Prior to that. My folks had started Havegard Farms at an old mink farm they’d purchased. That place had a garden that had for years benefitted from loads of mink manure, which, it turned out, was garden gold. Whatever we put in that ground blossomed and flourished and soon I became enamored with fresh vegetables and berries. As a kid from the suburbs, whose only outdoor labor was cutting lawns, that garden was a wonder. “Pick a little dinner from your garden!” I played the song down at the newly established Red Barn Coffeehouse and soon couldn’t play a set without it. I threw in a few joke lines to add humor – “My gourmet cooking don’t gallop around” was a nod to a then wildly popular TV chef called “The Galloping Gourmet.” “Roll up a smoke or have a toke of my home grown wine” referred to my ridiculous and short –lived habit of rolling my own cigarettes, but the wink-wink reference tickled some. And by the time I got to the last verse, the lyric went off the rails into absurdity, but it worked. Rick added his part and we had an “Island hit.”
Roll the clock ahead a few years, after The Natives.” I was somewhere on the Island when I was approached by a mother and two little girls, one of whom breathlessly asked, “Are you the Edward Sheehy?” I confessed I was, and they told me that they loved “Homegrown” so much that, in some kind of elementary school assembly or talent show down in their Chicago suburb, they and their friends had all dressed up as vegetables and danced to the song!
I’m not sure I’ve ever received a better accolade…they told me this so proudly and were so thrilled to tell me about it that to this day the image still tickles me. The next year, they reprised their vegetable act in some kind of parade in their hometown! I don’t think there are many songwriters out there who can make this particular claim to fame. To the Walker girls, I thank you.
Fresh loaf of good white bread from the oven, no one to taste it but me
A little bit heavy but I don’t mind, it goes good with the cheese
Pick a little dinner from the garden, carrots and spinach and peas
Grown with the sweat of my brow, standing up to the breeze
Homegrown, got to be the best kind
Homegrown, so you know that it’s real
Keep the blood red, stay alive with a homegrown meal
Well my gourmet cooking don’t gallop around, ain’t looking to win first prize
But I don’t need a mama, don’t need a maid, I do fine
And if I’m feeling lazy at all, don’t feel up to stoking a fire
Roll up a smoke or have a toke of that homegrown wine
You know if everybody here started growing their own, just a little garden or two
There’d be no wars and we wouldn’t have to go to the moon
We could build a new militia with bananas and beans, forty days of sassafras tea
And if you get the message you can help me find the end of this tune