Greensleeves

Album: Greensleeves (1580)

Songfacts®:

  • A traditional English song, there is no consensus on who composed "Greensleeves." It has been attributed to Henry VIII, the much married King of England, with speculation that the words were inspired by Katherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn.

    The first mention of the song in recorded history dates only from 1580, some 33 years after Henry's death.
  • As with many folk songs, the melody is far superior to the words. It is known variously as "My Ladye Greensleeves" or "Ladye Greensleeves" but usually as just "Greensleeves."
  • The song has been recorded numerous times over the years including by jazz artists, but perhaps most memorably (with the lyrics suitably amended) in an advertisement for Dreamland Electric Blankets. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above
  • This is a plea from a man to his bored mistress. He is still enraptured by her but she appears not to love him anymore.
  • William Shakespeare mentions this song by name twice in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

    In Act Two: "I would have sworn his disposition would have gone to the truth of his words; but they do no more adhere and keep place together than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of 'Green Sleeves.'"

    And in Act Five: "Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of 'Green Sleeves.'"
  • In a letter held at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum dated May 18, 1962, it is noted that "His favorite song is 'Green Sleeves' an old English composition."
  • In The Office episode "Take Your Daughter To Work Day" (2006), Dwight plays this on the recorder for a group of bored kids. He tells them the tune is "a traditional English ballad about the beheaded Anne Boleyn."
  • The instrumental was used in last few seasons of the Lassie TV show (1954-1974) as its theme song.

Comments: 7

  • What A Beautiful Song from South AfricaThank you for the words
  • Wayne from Lexington, KyMy favorite instrumental version of this is Kim Robertson's arrangement for the Celtic Harp on the album "Celtic Christmas".
  • Ashley from Simi Valley CaThe piano tune is so calming.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 20th 1969, Mason Williams' covered version of "Greensleeves" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #93; the following week it would peak at #92 and that was also its final week on the Top 100...
    He had three other records make the Top 100 chart; "Classical Gas" {#2* for 2 weeks in 1968}, "Barque-A-Nova {#96 in 1968}, and "Saturday Night at the World" {#99 in 1969}...
    The two weeks "Classical Gas" was at #2 on the Top 100; the #1 record for both those weeks was "Hello, I Love You" by the Doors...
    Mason Williams will celebrate his 77th birthday in three months on August 24th {2015}.
  • Chomper03 from Montrose, MdThe tune of this song was also used ( and still is use) for the Christmas song "What Child Is This?"
  • Chomper03 from Montrose, MdThis song was very popular among among Peasents and Noble Family Members of the Renaisance ages of England. It was played many times on the lute (a type of mandolin) by noble musicians; who would either charmed a "Faire Maiden" ( a young virgin female ), or just play for a few Pence ( english money in coins ).. Notably, they would played it for the Maidens.
  • Mathijs from Houten, NetherlandsLoreena McKennitt did a proper job on covering this as well.
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