The Green Green Grass of Home is a classic country song, mentioning, as it does, trains, 'Momma and Pappa', prison and death. The song starts with a return to the singer's home and a reunion with his childhood sweetheart, his parents and the rest of the town, who come to welcome him 'arms reaching, smiling sweetly'. The last verse reveals, however, he is dreaming as he waits on death row for his execution the following day. He will shortly be returning to the green, green grass of his home town, but only to be laid beneath it.
The song was written by Claude 'Curly' Putman Jr (who also co-wrote He Stopped Loving Her Today and D-I-V-O-R-C-E) and was first recorded by Johnny Darrell in 1965. It was a big country hit in America for Porter Waggoner the same year - this is him singing it in 1972, worth it for the jacket alone - and, as was common in those days, immediately recorded by loads of other artists, including Jerry Lee Lewis, who included it on his Country Songs for City Folks album.
That year, Tom Jones, who was in New York to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, went to a local record shop and, having asked if they had any Jerry Lee Lewis records, got the new country album. He recorded the song the following year and had a massive hit with it - it was number 1 for seven weeks in 1966 and had by 2017 sold one and a quarter million copies in the UK alone. It was also a hit in the US and has become one of his signature songs.
Loads of other versions have been recorded over the years, including this Swedish version, recorded by the Hootenanny Singers, whose members included Björn Ulvaeus in his pre-Abba days. Incidentally, the Swedish lyrics were written by Stig Anderson, who managed Abba and also wrote the lyrics to Waterloo.
There have also been versions in:
And, finally, my favourite version.
Sat Oct 26th, 10th Birthday Concert (Part 2), 7.30 pm, St Albans Church, Westbury Park. Buy tickets.
Sun Nov 3rd, 10th Birthday Concert (Part 2), 3 pm, Holy Nativity Church, Totterdown. Buy tickets.
Sun Dec 15th, Christmas Concert, 3 pm, Holy Nativity Church, Totterdown.
Sat Dec 21st, Christmas Concert, 7.30 pm, Redland URC Church.