I Walk with My Sweet Mary

‘Green, Green Grass of Home’ is a country song that was written by Claude “Curly” Putman Jr., and first recorded by singer Johnny Darrell in 1965.   Porter Wagoner’s cover made this song popular in 1965 as it reached #4 on the Country chart.  Tom Jones learned the song from the Jerry Lewis cover and he had a worldwide #1 hit with it in 1966.  Joan Baez covered this song on her tenth studio album David’s Album which was recorded in Nashville and released in 1969.  Her album peaked at #36 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.  Joan Baez is generally regarded as a folk singer, and she began her recording career in 1960 and achieved immediate success.  Folk music has a long history, and by the 1950s, the genre dominated the music charts.  Fans gathered to listen to songs by their favorite artists, because this music reflected on news and current events in the United States.

In the 1950s, Woody Guthrie, Doc Watson and Pete Seeger were some of the best-known folk singers around, but in early ’60s, new performers arrived like Peter, Paul & Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, The Seekers, Judy Collins and Joan Baez.  Folk singers, including Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Joan Baez, met in coffee shops and public places in San Francisco and New York to sing songs about their concerns with the war, civil rights, their jobs, and other social issues.  By the 1970s, folk music started to lose its popularity.  With the U.S. pulling out of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement being essentially over, most musicians shifted their focus to other concerns and music genres, such as rock and roll.

This song tells the tale of a condemned prisoner who is longing to escape to the green, green grass of home.  At the end of the song, it is revealed that the man is facing execution, and he will be coming home only to be buried.  Putman said that he got the inspiration to write ‘Green, Green Grass Of Home’ after watching the 1950 film The Asphalt Jungle.  The film was directed by John Huston, and it follows a group of men trying to carry out an ill-fated heist.  One of the criminals, Dix gets shot, but he’s determined to make it back to his home in Kentucky.  Dix drives back to his home, but he dies before his girlfriend can get him to turn himself in to the police.  The movie portrayed Dix’s childhood home, describing his hometown as having green grass, an old oak tree, and a house with cracked paint, and that became the inspiration for this song.  The man in this song is going to be hanged and all he can think about is his home, seeing his parents again and his girl Mary.

The old hometown 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

Yes, they’ll all come to meet me
Arms reaching, smiling sweetly
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 that 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

Then I awake and look around me
At four grey walls that surround me
And I realize, yes, I was only dreaming
For there’s a guard and there’s a sad, old padre
On and on, 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 that old oak tree
As they lay me
‘Neath the green, green grass of home

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the theme this week is Sweet, Honey, Sugar, Candy, Chocolate suggested by Angie of King Ben’s Grandma.

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