VIDEO: What connection did JOHNNY CASH have to Cork?

17 May 2019
By Bryan Smyth
bryan@TheCork.ie

There is a long history of American’s singing about Ye Olde Ireland (e.g. Bing Crosby) but did you know Johnny Cash not only sang about Ireland, he went so far as to actually write about the Emerald Isle which mentions Skibbereen and Cork!

The song was called ‘Forty shades of green’.

Cash wrote the song in 1959 while on a trip to Ireland.

It was first released as a B-side of the song “The Rebel–Johnny Yuma” in 1961. It is also included in two of Cash’s albums: Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash, released on Columbia Records in 1963, and Johnny Cash: The Great Lost Performance – Live at the Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, New Jersey, recorded live in 1990 and released in 2007.

Cash once recalled performing the song in Ireland and being told by an old man afterwards that it must have been an old Irish folk tune, and it is still mistaken for this today.

“Forty Shades of Green” has also been recorded by Daniel O’Donnell, Foster and Allen, and Ruby Murray, among others.

Lyrics – Forty Shades of Green – Johnny Cash, 1959

I close my eyes and picture the emerald of the sea

from the fishin boats at Dingle to the shores at Donaghdee

I miss the River Shannon and the folks at Skibbereen

the moorlands and meadows and their Forty Shades of Green

But most of all I miss a girl in Tipperary town

and most of all I miss her lips as soft as eiderdown

I long again to see and do the things we’ve done and seen

where the breeze is sweet as shalimar and there’s Forty Shades of Green

I wish that I could spend an hour at Dublin´s churning suft

I long to watch the farmers drain the bogs and spade the turf

to see again the thatching of the straw the women clean

I´d walk from Cork to Larne to see those Forty Shades of Green

But most of all I miss a girl in Tipperary town

and most of all I miss her lips as soft as eiderdown

I long again to see and do the things we´ve done and seen

where the breeze is sweet as shalimar and there´s Forty Shades of Green

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