The setting was 1930s Meraux, Lousiana, now a suburb of New Orleans, then a sprawling rural area with cotton fields and swampland. Ural Thomas — age 3 — his mother and a dozen or so of his siblings and neighbors settle down on their front porch at sundown.
“The porch was like our TV, that’s where all the stories were told.” Thomas relates before launching into one such story with a sly grin on his face. “The Greenwood [song was derived] from a story my Mom would tell about experiences from when she was a little girl. The Greenwood was a place that was too wild, where you weren’t allowed to go. Once, my grandfather went into the Greenwood to go hunting, he was gone 3 or 4 days. He hadn’t found anything. He sat on a log to rest and eat, and took his knife out and a block of cheese. He cut off a piece of cheese and he took his knife and he stuck in the log. He ate his lunch and then he pulled the knife out of the log and blood came out. He saw the blood running and he said, “Damn, I never seen no tree bleed.” He followed the tree to it’s end and it turned out to a great big snake, turning with his mouth open. My grandpa was so scared he threw down his rifle and he went running!” Ural clasps his hands as he laughs at the thought.