Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tom Jones: Green, Green Grass of Home

In his 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded, Jon Savage writes:
It was the silence and dark tones that reinforced the horror of the news report, as both the BBC and ITV gave Aberfan blanket coverage. By the early afternoon, viewers nationwide were seeing the black tide, the faces contorted by grief and pain, the crowds of rescuers, the small bodies being carried out under blankets. 
The rolling reports would continue over the next few days: as Tony Austin later wrote, "Aberfan showed that TV observation of grief is acceptable to the vast majority, even if it opened eyes to scenes that they would not wish to see."
He goes on to say that the pall cast by Aberfan had an effect on Britain's pop culture beyond the two large charity concerts that were held in South Wales in December.

Part of that effect, he argues, was this song:
Dominating everything that month ... was Tom Jones's "Green, Green Grass of Home", which went to #1 on 3 December and stayed there for the rest of the year. ... It was a country song ... with a death-haunted lyric that offered some surcease within a nation still coming to terms with the events of late October.
For, despite its American origins, it remains hard not the see the success of "Green, Green Grass of Home" as a response to Aberfan.

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