Green Tambourine



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Lemon Pipers - Green Tambourine (Upbeat 1967)

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Green Tambourine on Wikipedia
"Green Tambourine"
Green Tambourine - The Lemon Pipers.jpg
Single by The Lemon Pipers
from the album Green Tambourine
B-side"No Help from Me"
ReleasedNovember 1967 (1967-11)
Format7-inch single
  • 1967,
  • Cleveland Recording Studios
  • [1]
  • Psychedelic rock[2]
  • psychedelic pop[3]
  • bubblegum pop[4]
  • Paul Leka
  • Shelly Pinz
Producer(s)Paul Leka
The Lemon Pipers singles chronology

"Green Tambourine" is a song about busking, written and composed by Paul Leka (who also produced it) and Shelly Pinz, that was the primary hit by the 1960s Ohio-based rock group The Lemon Pipers, as well as the title track to their debut-album Green Tambourine. The song has been credited as being one of the first bubblegum pop chart-toppers. Released towards the end of 1967, it spent 13 weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 1 on February 3, 1968[5] and earned the group a gold record for over a million copies sold. The record remained on the chart for three months.[6] It was also the first U.S. number-one hit for the Buddah label. The Lemon Pipers would never repeat this success, although "Rice Is Nice" and "Jelly Jungle" did make it onto the charts in 1968.[6]

The song tells the story of a street musician pleading for someone to give him money. In exchange he offers to play his green tambourine. The song's instrumentation contains the titular tambourine as well as an electric sitar,[7] a frequent signature of the so-called "psychedelic sound." Another hook is the heavy, psychedelic tape echo applied to the word "play" in each chorus and at the end, fading into a drumroll ("Listen while I play play play play play play play my green tambourine"). The echo is noticeably different in the mono and stereo mixes. The mono version also starts fading out slightly earlier than in the stereo version.[citation needed] The musical arrangement also features sweeping orchestrated strings and the distinctive vibraslap percussion instrument. While the Lemon Pipers played on the record, producer and joint author-composer Leka hired a string section to accompany the band to add extra depth to the already psychedelic arrangement.[citation needed] the string section consisted of Elliot Rosoff, David Sackson, Irving Spice, Louise Stone, Louis Gaborwitz and Deborah Idol on violin, Seymour Berman on viola, Seymour Barab and Sally Rosoff on cello.[citation needed]

The single's B-side, "No Help From Me," featured lead vocal by keyboardist Bob Nave and did not appear on either of the group's two albums.


  • 1 Cover versions
  • 2 In popular culture
  • 3 Chart performance
    • 3.1 Weekly charts
    • 3.2 Year-end charts
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Cover versions

In 1968, an instrumental version was released by Lawrence Welk and His Orchestra on the album Love Is Blue, and as a single. Welk's version reached No. 27 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart.[8][9]

The Peppermint Rainbow covered the song two years later on their eponymous debut album, although the song did not chart.

Mrs. Miller covered the song on her 1968 album Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing.

Status Quo covered the song on their 1968 debut album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo.

UK band Sun Dragon recorded a very similar version in 1968 for the MGM label.[10]

Tripping Daisy covered the song on their 1992 debut album, Bill (The Dragon Street release).

The Blues Merchants, based in Cincinnati, Ohio covered the song on their 2012 album, Tattooed With The Blues.

Robert Goulet covered the song for the 2001 film Recess: School's Out.

In popular culture

  • Actor Billy Bob Thornton's character of Lorne Malvo plays the song at the beginning of Episode 9, "A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage," of Fargo, adapted from the Coen Brother's 1996 movie.
  • The Recess gang performs the song at the end of Recess: School's Out. Mikey (voiced by Robert Goulet) does the vocals.
  • The song was featured in a TV commercial of the Plymouth RoadRunner in 1970.


  1. ^ "Cleveland Recording Co. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Case Western Reserve University. September 28, 1998. Retrieved November 4, 2013. 
  2. ^ Jim DeRogatis (January 1, 2003). Turn on Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 378. ISBN 978-0-634-05548-5. 
  3. ^ Unterberger, Richie. The Lemon Pipers - Green Tambourine at AllMusic. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  4. ^ Nick Talevski (April 7, 2010). Rock Obituaries - Knocking On Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-85712-117-2. 
  5. ^ The Lemon Pipers - Chart History - The Hot 100, Accessed July 29, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Nite, Norm N. and Newman, Ralph M.: ROCK ON: The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Rock N' Roll': Thomas Y. Crowell: 1978. p 276.
  7. ^ Vincent Bell Danelectro, Silvertone Guitar, Bass, Parts, Accessories. History, Vintage Danelectro
  8. ^ Lawrence Welk - Chart History - Adult Contemporary, Accessed July 29, 2016.
  9. ^ "Billboard Top 40 Easy Listening", Billboard, April 6, 1968. p. 49. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  10. ^ Video on YouTube
  11. ^ "The RPM 100", RPM, Volume 8, No. 24, February 10, 1968. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  12. ^ Lemon Pipers - Full Official Chart History, Official Charts Company. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  13. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002]
  14. ^ CASH BOX Top 100 Singles, Week ending February 3, 1968. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  15. ^ "The RPM 100 Top Singles of 1968", RPM, Volume 10, No. 19, January 06, 1969. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  16. ^ Top 100 1968, Accessed July 29, 2016.
  17. ^ Top 100 Hits of 1968/Top 100 Songs of 1968, Music Outfitters. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  18. ^ "Top 100 Chart Hits of 1968", Cash Box, December 28, 1968. p. 14. Accessed July 28, 2016.

External links

  • Lyrics of this song
  • "Lemon Pipers - Green Tambourine" on YouTube (1968 television performance)

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