15
Feb 06

TOM JONES – “Green Green Grass Of Home”

Popular37 comments • 3,789 views

#227, 3rd December 1966

The worst thing about “Green Green Grass of Home” is how close it comes to being OK: for two verses the band is tight and Tom is as close as Tom gets to ‘restrained’, and the record is shaping up nicely. Carry on for another verse in that vein and we’d be listening to a big, corny pop-soul heartwarmer: sentimental for sure, but strong.

But no, there has to be a twist. And it’s not so much that there is a twist – plenty of songs have them – it’s the manner of its delivery. “And I realise -yes -“, says Tom Jones, “I WAS ONLY DREAMING”. It’s rare to feel patronised by a pop song, but this pulls it off. Spoken word sections usually work as a spash of naturalism in the middle of a pop performance – a trick to reduce the performer/audience distance and jack up the intimacy. But naturalism and Tom Jones don’t really share a universe, and given the assumed need to hammer home the ending for the slow of hearing the effect is something like Brian Blessed teaching a remedial class.

3

Comments

  1. 1
    Pete Baran on 15 Feb 2006 #

    We sang this, ages eight, in our school Christmas play: Christmas On The Prairie: when I played the frightning Indian Witchdocdotr with a maraca made up like a skull which made a tiny cry when I waved it at him.

  2. 2
    Andrew on 16 Feb 2006 #

    The version of this that I’m familiar with is the one on Johnny Cash Live at Folsom, where the twist is not that surprising to the audience, though it does reduce the already small distance. Of course, spoken-word can be difficult to spot in a Johnny Cash song.

  3. 3
    Anonymous on 16 Feb 2006 #

    Doctor Mod says:

    Tom Jones, unlike Johnny Cash, tended to go for dramatic overkill. (Think “Delilah.”) Sentimentality and a death sentence–what more could you ask for?

    It would be interesting, though, to contrast this with another “death sentence” song several years later: The Bee Gees’ “I’ve Just Got to Get a Message to You.” I actually think that the Gibbs made the idea work–their song admits the crime and shows little in terms of self-pity, only last-minute desperation in making some sort of amends to the girl whose heart was broken by all that. Tom, on the other hand, is planning his own funeral.

    I actually like Pete’s Witchdoctor’s skull/maraca image in connection with the song–even if it’s borderline child abuse to make eight-year-olds sing it. Surely there’s some sort of abuse in making anyone of any age listen to it.

  4. 4
    Marcello on 16 Feb 2006 #

    This post has been removed by the author.

  5. 5
    Anonymous on 16 Feb 2006 #

    Doctor Mod says,

    Marcello’s contribution brings up a question I have for Tom:

    Would you, under some extreme circumstances, give a recording a 0?

    I’ve not gone through the entire earlier lists, but have you ever given a 1?

    Just curious. I imagine there must be some way of designating the nadir of awfulness, even if I can’t quite decide myself what that might be–even though there’s a lot of toxic waste soon to come in the charts.

  6. 6
    Rosie on 16 Feb 2006 #

    I’m a bit puzzled about what Marcello is up to in the last few entries – it’s not so much a response to Tom’s main article and the other comments as a rival commentary; I’m almost tempted to say ‘spoiler’.

    Anyway – I believe Tom has given two 1s – I See The Moon by the Stargazers – something I’m not aware that I’ve ever heard though I expect I’d recognise it if I did – and My Old Man’s A Dustman, which really is dire enough to deserve it. One is plenty damning enough – a zero to my mind is just blowing a raspberry at the project. Besides, there are plenty worse than this song to come – I agree with our Tom that TJ almost pulls this off.

    I don’t know who was buying GGGOH, just taht a lot of people were. Not my parents, who were in the market for Petula Clark in a couple of entries’ time. But the charts are a measure of overall sales, and there’s no rule of course about who is and who isn’t allowed to buy records. There were a lot of Capodimonte figures and flamenco dolls being sold at this time as well and I strongly suspect s strong correlation between the two markets.

    I sense, too, that we are now crossing a watershed, of which Good Vibrations marked the summit. We leave behind a year full of wonderful things (Jim and Tom notwithstanding) and move forward into an uncertain period – some real gems to be sure but a lot of flat and boggy terrain and having peeked ahesd I don’t envy Tom the next year or so. The best of The Beatles is behind. The best of the Stones , the Who, the Kinks are to come, but we’re moving quickly into the age of The Album – The Doors and the Velvet Underground and Sergeant Pepper, and a significant tranche of youth turning away from the singles charts.

  7. 7
    Anonymous on 17 Feb 2006 #

    Doctor Mod says:

    GGGOH–Trying to pronounce the acronym produces a sound similar to one’s response to the recording….

    And right you are, Rosie–on virtually every point.

  8. 8
    Tom on 17 Feb 2006 #

    I can think of records plenty worse than Dustman or the Stargazers, whether they’ll get a 0 or a 1 I don’t know.

  9. 9
    Anonymous on 17 Feb 2006 #

    GGGOH – isn’t that a town in Wales ?

  10. 10
    Marcello on 17 Feb 2006 #

    I’m a bit puzzled about what Marcello is up to in the last few entries – it’s not so much a response to Tom’s main article and the other comments as a rival commentary; I’m almost tempted to say ‘spoiler’.

    Sigh.

    ***meaningful pause***

    w
    .h
    ..y

    …d
    ….o

    …..I

    ……e
    …….v
    ……..e
    ………n

    ……….b
    ………..o
    …………t
    ………….h
    …………..e
    ……………r
    …………….?

  11. 11
    Tom on 17 Feb 2006 #

    Before everyone gets all upset – I have no problem with Marcello putting his thoughts on the comment boxes, they’re always worth reading. His perspective on these songs is usually quite different from mine anyway! (And I also like hearing what mark out of 10 someone else would give it.)

    I haven’t yet worked out how to delete blogger comments, though I’m looking into it as there’s been an outbreak of spam on the Mike Sarne and Wendy Richards entry (best place for it!). When I do I will eagerly delete any and all flaming, though (and just to be clear nobody yet on this or any other entry has written anything remotely approaching flaming).

    Every comment I get on Popular is valued and I feel flattered by the interest the project generates, in whatever form that interest takes. If anyone wants to talk more about any of this then I suggest they email me! Cheers, Tom.

  12. 12
    Lena on 18 Feb 2006 #

    I don’t know this (all comments considered, I’m taking that to be a good thing) but I do know the song and once again I have to register surprise, this time that this, not the happiest song ever (not that I have anything against sad songs being popular!), would go to #1 at Christmas, but then I am also hopelessly ignorant as to why what the Christmas #1s are so important in the first place. I know they are, I just don’t know why.

  13. 13
    Intothefireuk on 19 Feb 2006 #

    I too, enjoy Marcello’s comments and am saddened that he has removed it (presummably he did this himself). Please re-post.

    To the Welsh foghorn Jones – he does indeed overplay his hand but for some reason I don’t mind. Possibly my judgement is coloured by my own personal childhood memories of gravy (especially as this was a hit at Christmas). I remember him singing it on TV in a studio set behind bars so no one could miss the point although of course this did make the ending somewhat meaningless. It’s over blown sentimentality is the likely reason why it was a such a big hit at Christmas (check out future Xmas hits from the mighty Rolf & St. Winifreds Choir for further evidence). Brings a tear to the eye doesn’t it ?

    ITF

  14. 14
    Joe Williams on 19 Feb 2006 #

    This post has been removed by the author.

  15. 15
    Joe Williams on 19 Feb 2006 #

    The record first hit Number 1 in November and stayed there for 7 weeks, so while it was Number One at Christmas, it isn’t a Christmas Number One in the novelty sense, so comparisons to There’s No-One Quite Like Grandma etc are a bit unfair.

    (Similarly for Two Little Boys which hit the top before Christmas week and stayed there till well through January).

    I’m of the school of thought that says that I’m Not Unusual is the only decent record Tom Jones ever made, so I’ll pass on this one.

  16. 16
    Frank Kogan on 19 Feb 2006 #

    A request that Marcello repost his deleted entries on this and other threads; I’m making the request for the selfish reason that some of my own posts no longer make sense without the context provided by Marcello’s comments, and for the equally selfish reason that I like to read Marcello’s comments.

  17. 17
    Anonymous on 20 Feb 2006 #

    That last verse does come pretty close to shanking things, but quite honestly, the sound of Tom Jones showing restraint is such a powerful and awesome one that I want to give it a passing grade anyway.

  18. 18
    Mark Gamon on 20 Feb 2006 #

    Thank you. Rubbish then, remains rubbish to this day.

    Not long ago there was a ‘blues special’ programme on C4 (?) late at night. All the usual suspects took part, Jeff Beck and Lulu included, playing a series of blues classics in an informal setting, apparently for the craic and nothing else.

    The surprise guest, for me, was our Tom. Not because he was there: the surprise was how well he sang. Turns out he really IS a great blues singer.

    Which only goes to show the damage pop music can do, I suppose.

  19. 19
    Anonymous on 20 Feb 2006 #

    Marcello ! Come back ….! Your contributions will be a loss. “You shouldn’t take it so purrrrrsonal.”

    BRian in Canada

  20. 20
    Anonymous on 21 Feb 2006 #

    Tom Jones was the singer in The Viscounts before solo fame, right? But was it him who sang on ‘Who Put the Bomp?’ or was it Johnny Gentle – whose biggest claim to fame was doing a tour with support act and backing band The Silver Beetles, who featured John, Paul and George, but not Ringo.

    Tommy Mack

  21. 21
    Frank Kogan on 21 Feb 2006 #

    By the way, Marcello’s stomping off isn’t anybody’s fault; it’s just Marcello being Marcello.

  22. 22
    Rosie on 21 Feb 2006 #

    Thank goodness for that. I was worried…

    I know I can be a real prima donna and have flouncing off to a fine art, but even so!

  23. 23
    doofuus on 22 Mar 2006 #

    Look, someone had to do this, I have waited weeks, so I guess it’s me:
    Patient: “Doctor, I’m so worried, I can’t stop singing ‘The Green, Green Grass of Home’. Can you help me?”
    Doctor: “What you have is the Tom Jones syndrome”
    Patient: “Oh, gosh, is it common?”
    Doctor: “It’s not unusual”
    Thankyou very much

  24. 24
    Waldo on 18 Nov 2009 #

    I would loved to have heard the Home Secretary of the day tackle this fucker!

  25. 25
    rw on 2 Feb 2010 #

    Don’t forget that Jerry Lee Lewis had recorded this before Tom Jones did …. so it can’t be all bad ……

  26. 26
    crag on 14 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISCS WATCH:

    Mary Peters, athlete(1973)

    Duncan Bannatyne,businessman(2010).

  27. 27
    Lena on 26 Sep 2011 #

    Less melodramatic: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/09/two-are-better-than-one-val-doonican.html Thanks for reading, everyone!

  28. 29
    Lena on 3 Oct 2011 #

    ’67…begins: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/10/back-to-future-donovan-sunshine.html Thanks for reading everyone!

  29. 30
    Paulito on 13 Nov 2011 #

    One of Elvis Presley’s later recordings is this version of GGGOH and it’s nicely done – bittersweet and mournful. Crucially, he (mainly) sings the last verse instead of reciting it, thus avoiding the hamminess and bathos that Tom’s effort descends into.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksVpFUtgbvA

  30. 31
    Billy Smart on 5 Dec 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: Tom Jones performed The Green Green Grass Of Home on Top Of The Pops on four occasions;

    17 November 1966. Also in the studio that week were; The Shadows, The Yardbirds and Val Doonican. Jimmy Savile was the host.

    8 December 1966. Also in the studio that week were; Jimmy Ruffin, The Barron Knights, The Easybeats, The Kinks and The Young Rascals. Pete Murray was the host.

    5 January 1967. Also in the studio that week were; Paul Jones, Sandie Shaw, The Four Tops and The Kinks. Pete Murray was the host.

    25 December 1967. Also in the studio that Christmas were; Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw, The Foundations, Jimi Hendrix, The Tremeloes and The Who. Jimmy Savile, Alan Freeman and Pete Murray were the hosts.

    None of these editions survive.

  31. 32
    lonepilgrim on 24 Apr 2013 #

    Meanwhile, at the top of the US charts was a sonic cathedral of sound, as noted here.

  32. 33
    lonepilgrim on 22 Jul 2013 #

    …followed at the top of the US singles chart by another cathedral of sound, as noted here

  33. 34
    lonepilgrim on 4 Nov 2013 #

    Can you believe it? Another US number hit the top on the last day of the year, as noted here

  34. 35
    lonepilgrim on 7 Sep 2015 #

    This is another song that I can recall hearing on the radio as a child, where the narrative seemed as plausible as the westerns that would be on TV on a Sunday afternoon. Tom sells the rose tinted vision of home but is wholly unconvincing when it comes to suggesting he is on Death Row. He just sounds too full of life to sell the tale convincingly. Enough people must have felt otherwise to make this the Christmas Number 1.

  35. 36
    enitharmon on 31 Oct 2016 #

    And it’s goodbye Curly Putman, writer of this song. It’s not a bad song at all, of its type, it’s just that Tom Jones was miscast as its singer. Johnny Cash suited it better.

  36. 37

    In his book 1966 — which I totally recommend — Jon Savage links it to the Aberfan disaster, suggesting its success in TJ’s version was a kind of UK-wide placemarker for the (understandably huge) emotional reaction to a very recent, very terrible event of only a few weeks before.

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)

Required

Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page