A Good Year For The Roses

Album: George Jones with Love (1970)
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  • This country weeper was written by Jerry Chesnut, a Nashville songwriter who penned Jerry Lee Lewis' Grammy-nominated hit "Another Place, Another Time."

    When Chesnut bought a home on Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee, he planted Hybrid Tea Roses along the walk and lovingly nurtured them until they were killed by an unseasonably wet spring. He was told, "It's just not been a good year for roses."

    Later, when he moved out to a farm, his memories of the doomed flowers led him to write this song. He explained in an interview with Nashville Songwriters Association: "I got to thinking about those roses. 'I wonder if they'd have done good if I'd brought them out here? ... What if it'd been a good year for roses, but everything else was going to pot? If the man's wife was leaving, the baby's crying, and the dog's died? The whole world's going to pot, but the roses are just blooming like crazy.' I just started writing the song like that."
  • This was one of 12 songs recorded by Elvis Costello on his country covers album Almost Blue. The original LP appeared with a label warning potential buyers: "This album contains Country & Western music and may cause offense to narrow minded listeners." Despite the genre jump, the song became one of Costello's biggest hits, reaching #6 UK.

    Costello recalled in Q Magazine March 2008: "That was (label boss) Jake Riviera's idea. He liked to be provocative. That sticker really made me laugh. I remember early on listening to a tape of country music while The Attractions were on tour when a journalist was about to come on the bus for an interview. Somebody said, 'Don't let them hear you playing country.' They were serious, because they were worried it would pin me down with being something to do with music before 1977. Which was nonsense. But that was the climate back then."
  • Chestnut recalled his reaction to Costello's cover: "I started getting telegrams: 'Congratulations on the Elvis Costello record.'... I thought it was an Elvis (Presley) imitator, probably. Or maybe (comedian) Lou Costello's boy. I had no idea who it was. I found out later on. Back then, it made a lot of money. The first check we got in was $60,000, just for airplay in the British Isles. I said, 'What is this guy?' They said, 'He's punk rock.' I said, 'Maybe that's the direction I want to go in.'"
  • Jones's version was a #2 hit on the country chart.
  • Jones recorded this again in 1994 for his duets album The Bradley Barn Sessions with Alan Jackson, but his hopes of topping the charts alongside the country hitmaker were dashed. Jones recalled in his autobiography: "Alan was white-hot on the radio, and programmers wanted his voice. But some didn't want his if they had to take mine. The vast majority of Alan's other single records have gone to number one. His duet with me was his first not to crack the top 50."

    It wasn't as bad as all that - it actually did peak at #56 and won the Music City News Country Award for Vocal Collaboration of the Year.

Comments: 2

  • Shaun from Wakefield, United KingdomI wonder if Jerry Chestnut,Elvis Costello and also George Jones were actually aware of the lyrics to this song.Jerry Chestnut unwittingly wrote one of the great comedy records of all time,concerning a man who is as happy to let his wife make the bed every single day for three years without having a go at doing it himself.On a strange note,their baby's crying is,to him a familiar sound,but it seems it can only be remedied by his wife because he clearly sees no mans role there.He is thinking to himself that he can get away with another days worth of growth on the lawn before he gets up off his backside to cut it, while his wife is packing to leave him.Tolerance must be his wife's middle name because how he has escaped waking up to see a bread knife sticking out of his chest is beyond me.
  • Steve from Salt Lake City, UtElvis pulls this song off so well! I truthfully didn't know it was a country song, but I heard it on one of my Dad's George Jones CD's and was shocked. Elvis can sing a very wide variety of songs and make them his own.
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