“Green, Green Grass of Home“, was written by Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr. and first recorded by singer Johnny Darrell.
It’s a country song originally made popular by Porter Wagoner in 1965, when it reached No. 4 on the country chart. (Wagoner is probably better known for promoting Dolly Parton’s career in her early days but that’s another story).
You probably know this song best by British singer Tom Jones who made it his second UK No. 1 fifty years ago in 1966 selling over a million copies. The story is he heard a recording of it by Jerry Lee Lewis, who had turned to country music, and it reminded him of getting off the train from London and arriving back in Pontypridd, Wales.
Pitman was a song plugger of country and western songs who one day decided he could write a better song than some of the stuff he was plugging.
And the melodramatic song is so well-structured you don’t realise until half-way through it that it’s a dream by a prisoner on death row on the eve of his execution.
The song has been recorded over 400 times by mainly country artists including: Johnny Cash, Charlie Pride, Frankie Laine,Merle Haggard, Hank Snow, and Kenny Rogers but also Elvis, Joan Baez, Nana Mouskouri, and Dean Martin.
Country songwriter Harlan Howard (probably best known for his song “Heartaches by the number”) once described country music as “three chords and the truth” and this song epitomises that sentiment.
Pullman said “everything I write is pretty sad.That’s what touches people” He thought “Green Grass” was the best song he ever wrote and after it was a hit for Tom Jones he could afford to give up his song-plugging job and write more songs.
These included Dolly Parton’s “Dumb Blonde”, Tammy Wynette’s “My elusive dreams” -both of which gave them their first No. 1s, and the song voted the best ever country song “He stopped loving her” by George Jones, one of Wynette’s former husbands.
His success allowed him to buy a ranch near Nashville which inspired the Wing’s song “Junior’s farm” after Paul McCartney and his family stayed there for several weeks.
He died last month aged 85.
This is Pulman’s version of the song he wrote.