Traditional – arrangement © 2016 by George Franklin
C F C
Goodnight sweet Witches / Redwoods / Witchlets, lay down and rest
C D G
Lay down your weary heads, and be the forest’s guest
C F C
The stars will guide you, your dreams’ll do the rest, we bid you good-
F G C
Night, good-night, good-night
* * *
History & Lore
Goodnight Sweet Witches came to us straight out of Western Appalachia. A late-1990s California Witchcamper visiting from Kentucky sang this song with great enthusiasm, and it’s been a staple of our campfires ever since.
After I’d sung this upbeat-lullabye version for a while, someone told me that the Grateful Dead used to end concerts with a quiet acapella variant of the song, which can be found on youtube as “And We Bid You Goodnight.”
Their melody and lyrics are rather different, but both versions include “lay down and rest,” and both end with “and we bid you goodnight.” The Dead’s version gave us the idea for the slow-down ending recorded here.
When a kid leaves the campfire for bed, we try to stop what we’re doing and sing this song, beginning with their name: Goodnight, sweet so-and-so….
Truthfully, the tired kids seldom seem very impressed by the effort. But it’s fun to sing it to them just the same.
About Those Redwoods:
Verse 2, Goodnight Sweet Redwoods, is sung for Redwood Magic Family Camp, which organized this album. If we were going to sing a verse for Witchlets, we pretty well had to sing to the Redwood Magic folks too!
But it’s nice to think of singing a lullabye to the redwood trees that encircle us, too – even though they sleep standing up.
* * *
A wise elder once said: When you talk with redwoods, you have to wait a while for an answer – your words have to travel to the top of the tree, and its answer has to travel all the way back down.
* * *
Circled close round the witchcamp fire, we gaze into the coals as the last flames flicker.
Our campfires are made from fallen branches. Someone quotes Buckminster Fuller:
“Fire is the sun unwinding from the trees.”
The flames turn to embers.
And we bid you goodnight… goodnight… goodnight.
Photo courtesy of Trillium / RQ Archives