Today I would like to talk about a great rock anthem, Green Grass and High Tides. My friend and fellow DJ, Feliciana, plays it often and lately I have been getting many requests for it. I’ve always loved this song but I am a bit surprised that a ten minute long Southern Rock anthem has become a staple at our club, along with Pink, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and others. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy, just a little surprised.
It is the last song on the Outlaws’ self-titled debut album (shown above), released in 1975. It was written by band members, Hughie Thomasson and Monte Yoho, at least that is what it says on the disc in my hand. I recall hearing, soon after its release, that it was about marijuana. That was plausible since both “grass” and “high” appeared in the title. However, Henry Paul, a founding band member, has claimed that the title has nothing to do with drugs. He said that it was written about rock legends like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and that the title was a rearranging of the words making up the 1966 Rolling Stones album, High Tides & Green Grass (shown below).
There is another version of this story floating around and it’s a much darker version. There is actually nothing in it that contradicts the above account. In fact, it probably sheds light on it, but we must remember that it is strictly based on what some people, close to the situation claim. There seems to be a ring of truth to it if you ask me. Supposedly, their road manager, James Brittain, wrote poetry and one day Hughie Thomasson read one and thought it would make great lyrics. So James wrote the Lryics to Green Grass and High Tides and Hughie wrote the music. The lyrics, while they seem to be written about more than one rock legend, were supposedly inspired by the death of Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones in 1969. The song was recorded and to be included on the band’s first album, but according to rumor, Arista Records wanted no names on the record, except those of the band members. James Brittain would not be recognized as one of the writers of this classic rock anthem. He began a downward spiral of drinking and depression, which eventually lead to his death. Though I can’t substantiate it, I’ve heard that “Green Grass and High Tides Forever” is carved into his tombstone
So what is the truth? Who knows? According to my CD, Thomasson & Yoho wrote it. Wikipedia, under the article for the album, just lists Thomasson, but in the article for the song, it lists Hughie Thomasson and James Brittain. If you take both accounts you can see that they can be fitted together nicely like two adjacent jigsaw pieces. Maybe that is the truth. I don’t think we will ever know for certain. I wonder if James Brittain didn’t have a flash of premonition when he wrote these lines…
"Those who don't believe me, find your souls and set them free
Those who do, believe and know that time will be your key
Time and time again I've thanked them for a peace of mind
That helped me find myself amongst the music and the rhyme that enchants you there
"Green grass and high tides forever
Castles of stone, soul and glory
Lost faces say we adore you
As kings and queens bow and play for you"
This is a much played and beloved classic rock song. It never charted because it was never released as a single but the album made it to #13.