Sunday, June 17, 2012

Story Songs: Green, Green Grass of Home

I've known people to get teary-eyed after listening to "Green, Green Grass of Home." This story song, by veteran songwriter Claude "Curly" Putman Jr., is about a homecoming of a different kind.

It opens with a soft and tender melody along with comforting lyrics that many of us probably feel when we think of returning to our roots or visiting loved ones.

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

But the last verse of the song reveals that a person on death row in a prison was having dream, recalling the happy and tender years of his life.

"Then I awake and look around me
Cold gray walls surround me
And I realize that I was only dreamin'
There's a guard and there's a sad old padre
Arm and arm we'll walk at daybreak
Again I'll touch the green, green grass of home"

And we learn that his homecoming will be bittersweet for his parents and sweetheart.

"Yes, they'll all be there to meet me
In the shadow of that old oak tree
As they lay me beneath the green, green grass of home"

Putman wrote a song for the ages because the listener can substitute any loved one who is returning home for the last time -- perhaps even how they may view their own journey to a final resting place. Simply beautiful and heartfelt lyrics.

The song has been covered by many artists including Porter Wagoner, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard, and Joan Baez. My favorite version is by Tom Jones, who made the song an international hit in 1966. 

Try to keep dry eyes after listening to Putman's masterpiece.

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