"I'm Looking over a Four-Leaf Clover"

By Sandra Sylvester | Mar 17, 2014
Photo by: The shamrock, unlike this clover, only has three leaves.

Knox County — As today is St. Patrick’s Day, I was trying to think of an appropriate story to bring to you. I began to think about shamrocks and four-leaf clovers. I didn’t realize there is a difference between the two, but there is. It has been so obvious that I didn’t even realize that fact before, so I looked it up on google and found this information at www.forrent.com/blog/holidays:

“The shamrock is a three-leaved clover; the plant was used by Saint Patrick to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity. It has subsequently become a national symbol of Ireland. The word comes from seamróg, the Irish name for the plant.

“A four leaf clover refers to an aberration of a three leaf clover plant, “white clover.” The white clover is a deep green flowering vine with white blossoms. It is the original shamrock plant of Ireland and the unofficial state symbol. The shamrock already has powerful associations, and its occasional production of an extra leaf makes the rare four leaf clover especially.”

While the Irish four-leaf clover may be white, we in America see them as green and a four-leaf one can often be found among a field of “clover.” We all, well at least I, consider them lucky, be they Irish or not.

I had my own special “four-leaf clover” detective when I was growing up, my father. He would walk with me through a field of clover and in the space of a few minutes would reach down and pick one out of a bunch of what looked like a gazillion ordinary clovers to me. He’d hand it to me for good luck.

“I’m Looking over a Four-Leaf Clover”

I could not think about four-leaf clovers without thinking about this song. Remember it? I looked it up on YouTube and found the whole history of the song in the process.

I soon discovered that this song, the perfect Karaoke song, is probably the most “prolific” song in terms of renditions that I have ever come across. I found that just about every genre of music you can think of, with the possible exception of opera, has their own version of the song. Starting in the 20s and up to the present day, we see it appear again and again. I would venture to guess that everyone of every age knows the words to this song. Can you sing it off the top of your head?

“I’m Looking over a Four-Leaf Clover” was written in 1927 with lyrics by Mort Dixon, and music by Harry M. Woods. It was a number 1 hit on the Billboard chart and in 1949 it was a hit for Art Mooney and His Orchestra. Look up this song on one of many sites on YouTube and see if you can sing along.

Nine singers, including Arthur Godfrey, were among the top 20 on the charts with this song.

Here are just some of the genres I noted for this song on YouTube:

Big Band sound

Art Mooney and his Orchesta

Ben Bernie and his Orchestra

Paul Whiteman Orchestra


Arthur Godfrey

Frankie Laine in his crooner style

The Ames Brothers

Barbershop Quartet “Acoustix” in the 90s from a Mitch Miller Barbershop TV special

String Bands

As Dixieland

Many Mummers style renditions including Alvino Rey in 1947

The Uptown String Band on the Krantz label

Dance Styles

I found a version that was probably close to a 20s style that was probably a quick step.

I heard a Samba-Jazz instrumental by Coleman Hawking

I challenge you to find a more sung more versatile song on YouTube or even in your own memory.

The four-leaf clover my Dad gave me was always cherished throughout that day, but alas, by the time we got home it wasn’t much more than green lint in my pocket. As I think about those excursions today I now believe that the really good luck I had was the opportunity to spend some time with my father, Ted. I miss him and if he were here today I’d say “Graim Thu” which is Gaelic for “I Love You.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everyone!








Comments (2)
Posted by: Sandra Sylvester | Mar 19, 2014 13:43

Bill, So glad you enjoyed my St. Patrick's Day story. Thanks for your comments as usual.

Posted by: William Pease | Mar 18, 2014 19:46

Thanks, Sandra, for this wonderful, timely paean to an unforgettable song.

I so wish I had known your father Ted Sylvester. Probably I did and my Alzheimer's disabled mind has left me with a complete blank that I cannot fill. I certainly knew very well your brother and my RHS class of 1952 classmate, Harlan, who was always warm & friendly and open to everyone he ever met. I can't think of him without a warm smile coming on my face, and for that I will be forever grateful. Not everyone elicited that automatic reaction, but Harlan certainly did, every time.

Thank you, dear lady, for your research and writing skills. Sure wish I had them, too, to the extent you do so seemingly naturally.

Bill Pease

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