#TBT: Green Onions



Time for another round of Throwback Thursday!

This is where we get to listen to some great music from days gone by. 

Today’s music comes to us from 1962.

Wikipedia tells us this about today’s tune:

"Green Onions" is an instrumental composition recorded in 1962 by Booker T. & the M.G.'s. Described as "one of the most popular instrumental rock and modern jazz songs ever" and as one of "the most popular R&B instrumentals of its era", the tune is a twelve-bar blues with a rippling Hammond M3 organ line by Booker T. Jones that he wrote when he was 17, although the actual recording was largely improvised in the studio.

The track was originally issued in May 1962 on the Volt label (a subsidiary of Stax Records) as the B-side of "Behave Yourself" on Volt 102; it was quickly reissued in August 1962 as the A-side of Stax 127, and it also appeared on the album Green Onions that same year. The organ sound of the song became a feature of the "Memphis soul sound".

Booker T. Jones was the keyboard player for the house band of Stax Records with Al Jackson on drums, Lewie Steinberg on bass, and Steve Cropper on guitar. They started jamming in the studio one Sunday when a recording session with another singer, Billy Lee Riley, failed to take place. They played around with a piano groove that Jones had performed in clubs before, although Jones decided to use a Hammond organ because he thought it sounded better on the tune. The owner of Stax, Jim Stewart, became interested in recording the resulting tune, "Behave Yourself". However, the band needed a B-side for this song. Using a riff with a 12-bar blues bassline that Jones had, the band came up with a song that became "Green Onions". The guitarist Steve Cropper played a Fender Esquire, the single pickup precursor to the two pickup Fender Broadcaster/Telecaster.

After recording, Cropper contacted Scotty Moore at Sun Records to cut a record. He then took the record to a DJ on the Memphis station WOLK, who played "Green Onions" on air. Due to positive reaction of the public to the song, it was quickly re-released as an A-side.

According to Booker T. Jones, the composition was originally to be called "Funky Onions", but the sister of Jim Stewart thought it "sounded like a cuss word"; it was therefore renamed "Green Onions". According to Cropper, the title is not a marijuana reference; rather, the track is named after the Green Badger's cat, Green Onions, whose way of walking inspired the riff. Songfacts.com, however, ascribes the track's title to Jones. When asked by Stax co-owner Jim Stewart why he had given the track this title, Songfacts reports, Jones replied, "Because that is the nastiest thing I can think of and it's something you throw away." On a broadcast of the radio program Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! on June 24, 2013, Jones was asked about the title and said, "The bass player thought it was so funky, he wanted to call it 'Funky Onions', but they thought that was too low-class, so we used 'Green Onions' instead."

See you again soon! Share with me your thoughts about this theme.  If you have a favorite oldies song or artist, let me know and I’d be happy to feature them.


  1. The thing that impresses me most is the sheer professionalism. Everyone knows where they're supposed to be, and when. And to be able to do that and still put feeling behind it is amazing. They've played that song thousands of times, but it always sounds fresh. Great choice!


Post a Comment

I love comments! Did you know that comments that are less than 8 words long are considered spam? So, don't hold back! Spill yer guts. Let me know you stopped by and let me know what you liked about the post, or what you didn't like. If you are a blogger, be sure to include a link to your blog, so that I can easily reciprocate.

Recent Posts

Recent Posts Widget