Friday, May 18, 2012

The Plant Kingdom: Rose Garden

Lynn Anderson: Rose Garden


"Rose Garden" (as in I beg your pardon, I never promised you one) was originally a man's song. Joe South wrote it and sang it on his landmark album Introspect. But Lynn Anderson had the smash hit with it, and transformed into a standard for female country singers. Shortly after Anderson was elevated from tiny Chart Records to the behemoth Columbia label in 1969, she started lobbying her producer -- who was also her husband -- to let her record "Rose Garden." Nope, said Glenn Sutton, that's a male lyric, and he had her record something more fitting -- "Stay There 'Til I Get There" -- instead. Anderson kept at Sutton, and eventually he acquiesced. "The reason they objected to my recording it was the line, 'I could promise you things like big diamond rings,'" says Anderson in Tom Roland's Number One Country Hits. "It was not a line a woman would say to a man, therefore it could not be a female vocal on the song."

Although "Rose Garden" featured the overlush string arrangements that typified "countrypolitan" records of the era, producer Sutton added a country shuffle beat and a distinctive steel guitar lick, lifted straight from ska music. Label chief Clive Davis heard the take and ordered it up as Anderson's next single. It became an enduring country hit, notching five weeks at #1 on the Billboard country charts, as well as a long run on the pop music charts. "Rose Garden" has been covered numerous times -- almost always by women. So much for it not being appropriate for "female vocals." Anderson's vocals, as well as a bit of the theme from "The Magnificent Seven," were prominently sampled on Kon Kan's 1989 hit, "I Beg Your Pardon."

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