backhand.gif (112 bytes) Pioneer Valley Folklore Society Anthology

Susan Grant

To call Susan Grant of Northampton a renaissance woman does not do her justice.   In addition to collecting and sometimes composing folk songs, Sue is a professor of biology sciences at Holyoke Community College and author of Beauty and the Beast -- The Coevolution of Plants and Animals.  She has also written mystery novels and a children's book. On the domestic front, she excels at knitting and vegetarian cooking, and with her husband, Don, has home-schooled their teenage daughter, April.

Sue was inspired to write The Shutesbury Song by a drive through the village during a family outing. 

The Shutesbury Song

Words 1996 by Susan Grant
Music from "Kildorreray Town" by Joe Sheedy,
(Printed in Ballads From the Pubs of Ireland, Mercier Press 1993)

I have traveled throughout Massachusetts
From Provincetown far to the east,
To Worcester for weddings and funerals,
And even a Thanksgiving feast.
I have stood on the top of Mt. Greylock,
And from Goat's Peak I've stood looking down,
But all over the state, from tiny to great,
There's nothing like Shutesbury town.

Have you ever visited Shutesbury?
It' s not very far from Route 2,
With plenty of second growth forests,
There's lots there for lumbermen to do.
If you take the road north from Amherst,
You'll see many hills staring down;
On the highest of all, you will find the town hall,
Of famous old Shutesbury town.

When the people in Boston decided
They wanted a reservoir here,
They dammed up the Swift River Valley
And the floodwater rose far and near.
Old Enfield was flooded, and Dana,
Prescott and Greenwich were drowned,
But safe above Quabbin's dark water
Stands the center of Shutesbury town.


Once a lama was visiting Leverett,
And left the pagoda one day,
He walked all the way to Pratts Corner
Where he sat down to rest and to pray.
Several Shutesbury residents gathered,
To ask why he'd left that great dome,
He said, "Just this fall I came here from Nepal,
And Shutesbury reminds me of home."


When Governor Weld came to Shutesbury
He was looking for deer as you know,
He said that he found relaxation
In hunting the buck and the doe.
The selectmen of Shutesbury were happy,
They knew it would do the town good;
He went home with five speeding tickets,
But without a dead deer on the hood.


Many people from Shutesbury travel,
To Orange or Greenfield or Ware,
To Amherst, or even South Hadley,
In search of the jobs they find there.
But at home, when they see the wild turkeys,
Hear coyotes howl high on the hill,
They know after all, though it's miles from the mall,
There's no place like Shutesbury still.