Green Green Grass Of Home

Album: Green Green Grass Of Home (1966)
Charted: 1 11
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  • This country song about a condemned prisoner who longs to escape to the green, green grass of home was inspired by a crime scene in the film The Asphalt Jungle. Nashville songwriter Curly Putnam wrote it in 1964 and it was initially recorded by country singer Johnny Darrell.
  • Tom Jones decided to record this after hearing a version by Jerry Lee Lewis, a legendary rocker who had started making country records. A year after Johnny Darrell's original version, Lewis recorded this on his album Country Songs For City Folks.

    Jones recalled to The Mail On Sunday February 6, 2011: "I used to collect anything Jerry Lee Lewis recorded, and still do. I was in New York in 1965 when I bought his country album Country Songs For City Folks. Green Green Grass Of Home stuck out.

    I got on well with Jerry Lee. I did have a bit of a dust-up with him one night in Vegas, but most of the time, we got on great. He came over to do a British tour in 1966 and I had just recorded the song. He told me he'd love to hear it, so I played it to him in his hotel room. He was knocked out with it and said: 'You've done something different here, the arrangement is great. It sounds like a No 1 to me.' I said: 'I hope you're right.' He was."
  • Jones discussed the song's meaning with The Mail On Sunday: "I think the lyrical content is important here. The guy in the song is really in a jail cell, but you don't know until the end. That got to me. Good God, it paints a picture and yet a lot of people who love Green Green Grass Of Home don't even realise that. This is about a man who is going to be hanged and he's just reminiscing on the precious parts of his life.

    It made me think of Wales when I recorded it – 'the old home town looks the same'. When I went back to Pontypridd in those days, getting off the train from London, those words would ring true. It seems like a lot of people relate the sentiment to their home too."
  • Tom Jones recalled hearing Jerry Lee Lewis' version of this in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, "I said to my recording manager, Peter Sullivan, I'd like to record this. He said, 'A Country song?' I said 'Yeah' because I hadn't done a Country song up to that point. Les Reed did the arrangement and played piano on the track and made it more of a Pop song than a Country song, because when Jerry Lee Lewis did it, it was strict Country. When I came back to England, I recorded the song on TV and we did it like in a jail. But you don't know it is a jail until the camera pulls back and you see the bars, and there I am in this jail singing The Green Green Grass Of Home."
  • This was Tom Jones' biggest hit in the UK, selling 1,205,000 copies. It was the first Decca single by a UK artist to sell more than a million copies in the UK.
  • Artists to cover this song include Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers.
  • This was #1 in Germany for nine weeks, then a cover by Peter Alexander was a #1 there for another two weeks.
  • In an interview with Bauhaus lead singer Peter Murphy for Songfacts, he said that this song was the one that had the most influence on him.
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Comments: 17

  • Mehmet from IstanbulAt the end they buried hım beneath the tree. The music is nice but the lyrics too depressive....how could someone write something like this? Must be crazy, but anyway I like the music best.
  • Lisa from Chicago - Usa Shane - I don't think you're wrong. The very last line is, "Yes, they'll all come to meet me, in the shade of that old oak tree, as they lay me neath the green green grass of home". Based on the last line and the 4 gray walls, I wasn't sure myself if he was coming home from prison, war or a concentration camp, but it's was clear he's dead.
  • Gq from CyprusGQGeorge released a great Green green grass of home cover also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACrYUjRJkeU
  • Mark from LondonYou could combine it with Delilah and expand them into a film.
  • Shane from Usa MichiganMan I was wrong about how I thought about this song... My vision... I thought he was coming home dead in a coffin. I guess, I was wrong. Lyrics "Four gray walls that surround me" I thought that was the interior of a coffin.
  • Shane from Usa MichiganYou Tube has Port Wagner on TV in 1964 singing this song. It hit the charts like Barry - Sauquoit, Ny said in 1965. But it was recorded in 1964.
  • Shane from Usa MichiganI think this might be wrong... "1964 initially recorded by: Country singer Johnny Darrell" I am sure it was initially recorded by: Port Wagner. Anybody have a comment?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 7th 1969, Tom Jones performed "Green Green Grass of Home" on his own ABC-TV program 'This Is Tom Jones'...
    It was the debut show of the musical/variety series that aired from 1969 to 1971 with a total of 65 episodes.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 18th 1966 "Green, Green Grass of Home" by Tom Jones entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on February 12th, 1967 it peaked at #11 (for 1 week)and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    On December 3rd, 1966 it reached #1 (for 7 weeks) on the United Kingdom's NME chart...
    It was originally recorded in 1965 by country singer Johnny Darrel, his version didn't make the chart but later in 1965 Porter Wagner covered it and his version peaked at #4 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
    R.I.P. Mr. Darrel (1940 - 1997), Mr. Wagner (1927 - 2007), and Mr. Jones, born Thomas John Woodward, will celebrate his 74th birthday come next June 7th.
  • Thomas Leonard from Pittsburgh, Pa, PaJones also hit big with his cover version of Bobby Bare's Country Cross Over hit "Detroit City" (US #27, UK Top 10) later in 1967. Another country song, "Funny, Familiar, Forgotten, Feelings" also hit the UK Top 10 for him that year. In the late 70's and early 80s, Jones recorded mostly in Nashville, almost exclusively country music, and had multiple Top 20 hits on the US Country Charts including "Touch Me (I'll Be Your Fool Once More)" and "Woman's Touch". His 1977 single "Say You'll Stay Until Tomorrow" made Jones the first artist ti hit No. 1 on the US Country Charts with their first ever country chart hit (It peaked at US #15 on the pop charts).
  • Bob from Bismarck, NdJoan Baez does a VERY NICE version of this lovely, sad song.
  • Gary A. Stansbury from Wall Twp., NjStationed in Germany in the U.S.Army, 1966-1968, this song was played over and over in the juke box
    by homesick soldiers. To this day,I always think of Germany, and my youth!
  • Daniel from Seattle, WaPeople who enjoy this song should read the Ambrose Bierce short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."
  • Mike from Seattle, WaThere is a great cover that can be found at i-tunes by the Inkspots. I play this at 4th of July picnics and think about P.O.W.s returning back home, even though it obviously is about a convict awaiting capital punishment.
  • Erlend from Sandvika, NorwayComment to Andrew's comment: It's not someone glad to be home. The 4th verse, which is - I think - supposed to be spoken - explains everything. "For there's a guard and a sad old padre, arm in arm we'll walk at daybreak" - this is about a guy in prison about to be killed by the state; the padre is the prison chaplain accompanying him. Usually, only the first 3 verses are used. They stand well on their own, but it kinda ruins the song - because the most important thing to it is the... Twist ending, when you realise that it's not a nice song of longing for home, but the last thoughts of a condemned man.
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesI always thought that "Green, Green Grass of Home" was about a soldier who finally returned home from war. Oh, but it's a prison period that's over, not a war period. My bad! In any case, it's about a guy who's glad to be home after a long time away.
  • The Last Dj from Hell.a., CaTom Jones knocked ol' Curly's song out of the park! However, let's not forget that the "Man in Black" also covered this song triumphantly on his 1968 Folsom Prison album. Other artists who have coverd this song; Mr. Elvis Aaron Presley and Kenny Rogers. Note: Looking for a great country song recorded by Tom Jones? Darlin', off of the album by the same name.
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