May 23, 2007

Green Green Grass of Home




(Joan Baez performing "Green Green Grass of Home" on the Smothers Brothers show)

I was little more than a child when I first heard it sung by Tom Jones, and I liked it quite a bit. In fact, it was the Welsh singer who made "Green Green Grass of Home" popular, in 1966, though it had been recorded earlier that year by Jerry Lee Lewis. But it was when I heard it sung by Joan Baez that I realized how much I loved that yearning country song. Since then, I was searching for other versions. So I came across that of Johnny Cash, on his famous1968 Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison album, that of Elvis Presley, my favourite one, on his 1975 Today album, the one by Kenny Rogers (1977), and many others.

By the way, in an Elvis fan site—where The King’s version of the song can be heard—I have learned that "Green Green Grass of Home"

had first caught Elvis's attention when he heard Tom Jones's version on George Klein's WHBQ radio show while driving home from California for Christmas in 1966. Elvis had flipped over the record then and stopped repeatedly to have Joe Esposito call from Arkansas to get George to play it again and again. At the time Red West was surprised to hear Elvis raving about the song, having played Jerry Lee Lewis's version for Elvis months before that to no reaction. Elvis's voice was more suited to this second number than the first, and he had it down from the start.


***


LYRICS

The old home town looks the same,
As I step down from the train,
And there to meet me is my mama and my papa.
Down the road I look, and there comes Mary,
Hair of gold and lips like cherries.
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.


The old house is still standing,
Though the paint is cracked and dry,
And there's the old oak tree that I used to play on.
Down the lane I walk with my sweet Mary,
Hair of gold and lips like cherries.
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.


Yes, they'll all come to see me,
Arms reaching, smiling sweetly.
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.


Then I awake and look around me,
At the four gray walls that surround me,
And I realize that I was only dreaming.
For there's a guard, and there's a sad old padre,
Arm in arm, we'll walk at daybreak.
Again, I'll touch the green, green grass of home.


Yes, they'll all come to see me
In the shade of the old oak tree,
As they lay me 'neath the green, green grass of home.



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