Forty Shades Of Green Lyrics - Johnny Cash

Review The Song (9)

Forty Shades of Green by John R. Cash (1959)

I close my eyes and picture the emerald of the sea
from the fishing boats at Dingle to the shores of Donadea
I miss the River Shannon and the folks at Skibbereen
the moorlands and the meadows with 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 eider down
Again I want 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 surf
how I long to watch the farmers drain the bogs and spade the turf
To see again the thatching of the straw the women glean
I would walk from Cork to Larne to see the 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 eider down
Again I want 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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Johnny wrote it | Reviewer: Desi C | 8/7/12

Just to point out, there has never been any legal dispute or question that Johnny Cash wrote this song. The phrase 40 shades of green of course has existed in Ireland long before the song but the words and music are Johnny's own original work inspired by a visit to Ireland. The reason so many people doubted it is indeed a tribute to the fact that he wrote it in traditional Irish style. As a songwriter myself, it's a great thing to have people mistake your song for an old trad song. I wrote a song 4 years ago Singing In Kilkenny (see You Tube 'desi singing in kilkenny) and have had quite a few people say "I love that old song, my granny used to sing that to me" Also Johnny wasa very modest man and was content to let some people think it was an old trad song

40 Shades of Green - Author Fr Patrick Coughlin | Reviewer: Pauline Curran | 2/27/12

40 Shades of Green was written by an Irish Priest Fr Patrick Coughlin. I met this priest on a visit to Lourdes in the 1970s and he told me that he wrote this song. I think this must have been prior to the time when Johnny Cash claimed to be the author as this priest didnt tell me that their was any dispute going on. I think the priest in question was a Holy Ghost Priest and may have been based in Blackrock College at that time. I would welcome any other inputs on this subject.

True Legend of Forty Shades Of Green | Reviewer: colm connolly | 2/9/12

The discussion about Johnny Cash's authorship is basically did Johnny
try to mislead the Irish in Ireland about this song? If so why would he
mispronounce "Donaghadee" at shows? And in effect this actually caused
people in Ireland to think that he didn't write Forty Shades Of Green.

The problem is that people who are not travelling minstrel musos like
Johnny was, can have no workable perception themselves to review with
any accuracy or correctness the legitimacy of Johnny's authorship of
Forty Shades Of Green. Johnny did shows for the love of it and sincere communication with the audience or dance crowds. Not for maximising
his personal monetary profit. This is the way the critical reviewers
think and not an analysis of the way Johnny Cash himself would actually

Johnny Cash was of Ulster Scots (in America, "Scotch-Irish") background
like Van Morrison and the itinerary "Cork to Larne" is telling because Cork
was the big port to America in the southwest of (the island of) Ireland,
and Larne was the Ulster Scots/Scotch-Irish ferry port to Scotland in the
northeast. So the only person who can be identified by the "generic"
emotional profile of this line is Johnny Cash. Of course it could all be just
a series of coincidences but even so the "coincidences" favour Johnny.

I played myself with other Northern Ireland musos from the Larne
hinterlands of County Antrim of the "Green Glens Of Antrim" (another
song in the spirituality of Forty Shades Of Green and also a tourist
catch-phrase) and this is a genuine North of Ireland travelling
minstrel muso "true story" tradition about Johnny Cash:

Johnny was doing a show one night in Ireland when Forty Shades
Of Green first became known and popular in the show circuits
and Johnny was very much loved all over. And so members of the
dancehall crowd appreciating the rapport and enjoyment they
were having with Johnny, put up a request somewhat timidly--
worrying that a request that they thought was a generic Irish
Country number might clash with Johnny's stage show program
from America--and it was Forty Shades Of Green. They politely
asked did he know it and would he mind doing it for them?

Johnny then announced a special request for an "Irish" number
and dedicated to the crowd and called "Forty Shades Of Green".
Pulled the place down as they say. And the crowd was so tearfully
and deliriously happy that "Johnny Cash" had actually done this
for them!

After the crowd's emotional reception to Johnny's performance
of the number, one of his road people asked him. "Why didn't you
tell them you wrote it?"

And Johnny said "I hadn't the heart."

And for what it is worth any Northern Ireland musos that I ever knew,
attributed Forty Shades Of Green To Johnny Cash.

From an Irish songwriter | Reviewer: kevin | 10/25/11

Johnny wrote the 40 Shades of green as his plane was preparing to land in Ireland on one of his visits here. He stayed in Markree Castle next door to where I live in Sligo and he recorded a song standing by the massive fireplace of the castle with a local singer called Sandy Kelly--look her up on you tube. The song was called WOODCARVER and was a big hit for both of them at the time.

An Old Irish Ballad? | Reviewer: david brady | 9/20/11

Johnny Cash and his daughter, Rosanne, taped a segment on an installment of a series called The Appalachians in 2005. He talked about one of a series of local concerts he gave in an Irish town. Afterwards, an old Irishman came up and thanked Johnny for singing that "fine old Irish ballad". Johnny told him that, no sir, he had written that song himself. The old man kept on insisting that, no, it was a fine old Irish ballad until Mr. Cash finally gave in and agreed that, yes, it was a fine old Irish ballad. A tribute to the late Johnny's Cash's song-writing skills, if he fooled an old son of the sod.

A true original | Reviewer: dsweeney | 2/26/11

I have only recently become aware of the " dispute " over Johnny Cash's " Forty shades of green ". From what I understand there is another song called " 49 shades of green " but it is ENTIRELY different.So while the title may have inspired the Cash song, it is surely his own and original. The phrase " forty shades of green " is so hackneyed etc that I think people assumed there MUST be an old song of that name but Johnny's is an original unless somebody can specifically show otherwise.

40 versus 49 | Reviewer: Bob Massey | 9/2/08

I disagree with the comments on the 1956 song of a very similar title because they are two entirely different songs. It is perhaps worthy of note because Johnny Cash may have gotten the idea from that song, but he created a completely original tune and lyric.

There are countless songs out there with the exact same title which are entirely different. Granted, these two are pretty darn unique...So that an idea was borrowed may be the case but I do not find it unjust that Johnny would claim the song to be his own.

The reason that whether he had written it was ever up for discussion had nothing to do with this other song. It was strictly a matter of its sounding so heartfelt and genuinely Irish that some people believed it was a traditional Irish song; it must have been written by an Irishman a long time ago, they thought. So it was just testament to his writing skill and feeling for Ireland. I have never heard it claimed, except in the above context, that the song was not his own and an original.

I would bet if asked Johnny may have conceded to getting some inspiration from the "49" song but if he did, it only went as far as the title. The Emerald Isle did the rest for him.

author of 40 shades | Reviewer: | 2/17/08

Looking through my sheet music I came upon Forty-Nine Shades of Green by Sid Pepper and Roy Bennett 1956 and 3 years before Johny Cash wrote his piece. Looking on youtube I see that Johny Cash protests that he wrote Forty Shades of Green. I could come up with a song called the Blue,Blue Grass of Home. It may be a great song but to what extent is it my song?
andrew beasley-murray

heart of a celt | Reviewer: Lowell Thomas | 8/19/07

and to think that JOHNNY CASH wrote this
evidence there's a lot of the green in so many of us looking at my ancestors there's irish, scots, welsh and some english
so the name's THOMAS

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