Green, Green Grass of Home

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“Green, Green Grass of Home”
Single by Tom Jones
from the album Green, Green Grass of Home
B-side “Promise Her Anything”
Released November 1966
Genre Country, schlager
Length 3:05
Label Decca Records F22511
Writer(s) Curly Putman
Producer(s) Peter Sullivan

“Green, Green Grass of Home”, written by Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr. and first recorded by singer Johnny Darrell, is a country song originally made popular by Porter Wagoner in 1965, when it reached No. 4 on the country chart. That same year it was sung by Bobby Bare, and later Tom Jones, in 1966, when it became a worldwide No. 1 hit. The song had also been recorded the previous year in 1965 by Jerry Lee Lewis, and included on his album Country Songs For City Folks (later re-issued as All Country), and Jones had learned the song from Lewis’s version.

“Green, Green Grass of Home”
Single by Tom Jones
from the album Green, Green Grass of Home
B-side “Promise Her Anything”
Released November 1966
Genre Country, schlager
Length 3:05
Label Decca Records F22511
Writer(s) Curly Putman
Producer(s) Peter Sullivan
Tom Jones singles chronology
“This and That”
(1966) “Green, Green Grass of Home”

A man returns to his childhood home; it seems that this is his first visit home since leaving in his youth. When he steps down from the train, his parents are there to greet him, and his beloved, Mary, comes running to join them. All is welcome and peace; all come to meet him with “arms reaching, smiling sweetly.” With Mary the man strolls at ease among the monuments of his childhood, including “the old oak tree that I used to play on.” It is “good to touch the green, green grass of home.” Yet the music and the words are full of foreshadowing, strongly suggestive of mourning.

Abruptly, the man switches from song to speech as he awakens in prison: “Then I awake and look around me, at four grey walls that surround me. And I realize that I was only dreaming.” He is, indeed, on death row. As the singing resumes, we learn that the man is waking on the day of his scheduled execution[3] (“there’s a guard, and there’s a sad old padre, arm in arm, we’ll walk at daybreak”), and he will return home only to be buried: “Yes, they’ll all come to see me in the shade of that old oak tree, as they lay me ‘neath the green, green grass of home.”

The Joan Baez version ends: “Yes, we’ll all be together in the shade of the old oak tree / When we meet beneath the green, green grass of home.”

Tom Jones version

Welsh singer Tom Jones, who was appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1965, visited Colony Records while staying in New York City. On asking if they had any new works by Jerry Lee Lewis, he was given the new country album.

Impressed with the song, Jones recorded and released the song in the UK in 1966 and it reached No. 1 on 1 December, staying there for a total of seven weeks. The song has sold 1.23 million copies in the UK as of November 2012. Jones’ version also reached #11 pop, #12 easy listening on the Billboard US charts.

In February 2009, Jones performed the song live on a special Take-Away Show with Vincent Moon, along with “If He Should Ever Leave You” and “We Got Love”, live in front of a camera in a hotel room in New York.

In September 2006, Jones performed the song as a duet with Jerry Lee Lewis during the taping of the latter’s Last Man Standing TV special in New York City, and credited Lewis with providing the inspiration behind his own recording.

Jones sang the song on the 2009/10 edition of Jool’s Annual Hootenanny on 1 January 2010.

Other versions

Since then it has been recorded by many other solo vocalists and groups including:

1965: Bobby Bare
1966: Charley Pride on the album Country
1967: Gene Parsons with the band Nashville West (album released in 1978)
1967 The Statler Brothers on their album Sing the big hits.
1967: Roger Miller on his album Walkin’ in the Sunshine
1967: A Serbo-Croatian language version by Miki Jevremović as Zelena Zelena Trava Doma Mog …Diskos – EDK-3068 Vinyl, 7″, 45 RPM, EP, Mono
1967: A Swedish version by Stig Anderson as “En sång en gång för längesen”, of which both Björn Ulvaeus’ Hootenanny Singers and Jan Malmsjö each had a 1967 Svensktoppen hit with, for six and 33 weeks respectively.
1967: Dalida, under the name of Les grilles de ma maison, disc (Super 45 t : 71167)
1967: Dean Martin on the album Welcome to My World
1967: Jürgen Herbst recorded a German coverversion Der Weg zurück nach Haus’ (CBS 2529)
1967: Agnaldo Timóteo, Brazilian singer, recorded the song on the album Obrigado Querida (Odeon – MOFB 3488), under the name of Os Verdes Campos Da Minha Terra, lyrics in Portuguese by Geraldo Figueiredo
1967: Nana Mouskouri under the name of “Le toit de ma maison” on the album Le Jour où la colombe
1968: Johnny Cash on the album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
1968: Frankie Laine on the album “To Each His Own”
1968: Merle Haggard on the album Mama Tried
1968: Hank Snow on the album Hits, Hits, and more Hits
1968: Porter Wagoner on the album Green Green Grass of Home
1968: Johnny Paycheck on the album Country Soul
1968: Trini Lopez on Welcome to Trini Country
1968: Pozo-Seco Singers on Shades of Time
1968: Pavel Novák Czech singer as Vím, že jen sním
1969: Joan Baez on the album David’s Album
1969: Gé Korsten South African singer recorded an Afrikaans version “Groene Velde Van My Land” on the album “Sing Seeman Sing”
1969 The Grateful Dead perfomed it live a number of times.
1971: Stompin’ Tom Connors (a parody version as “The Green, Green Grass of Home, No. 2”) on the album Stompin’ Tom Connors, ‘LIVE’ at the Horseshoe
1972: The Fatback Band on the album Let’s Do It Again
1972: George Jones on the album Take Me
1975: Elvis Presley on the album Today
1976: Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers on the album Sleepless Nights
1977: Kenny Rogers on the album, Kenny Rogers
1986: Nick Cave quotes from the song in the opening line of ‘Sad Waters’ on the album Your Funeral, My Trial
1986: Ted Hawkins on the album On the Boardwalk (The Venice Beach Tapes)
1993: Dennis Brown on the album The General
1993: Riblja Corba as “Zelena trava doma mog” on the album Zbogom Srbijo
2006: Katherine Jenkins on the album Serenade
2008: Mike Farris on the album Shout! Live