Sally Go Round The Roses

Album: Sally Go Round The Roses (1963)
Charted: 2


  • The Jaynettes were a combination of singers from The Clickettes and The Hearts. Producer Abner Spector put the group into the recording studio for a week. The melody was an adaptation of an old English nursery rhyme. The unique arrangement was the brainchild of Artie Butler, who says though he never got paid for his work, the record gave him his very first credit as an arranger. He played and separately recorded all the instrumental tracks himself except for the guitar, adding a different kind of reverb for each instrument. The B-side consisted of just the band tracks without vocals. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Keely - Bronx, NY

Comments: 22

  • Ekristheh from HalathRichard Goldstein, in "The Poetry of Rock" (my Bible in 1970) had this to say: "Those who like to ponder meaning can choose between a gaggle of interpretations, including one which alleges that Sally experiences a religious epiphany, and another that asserts that the whole thing is about a lesbian affair. But it’s far more meaningful to grasp the song’s essential sadness than to clutch at interpretive straws. Sally’s situation is the oldest cliché in rock, but the melancholic lyricism in which her scene is set is unique. It is that quality of soft despair which attracted all the explicators in the first place."
  • Ann from UsThis song has been linked to the children's nursery rhyme Ring around the roses. Most people don't know, but this nursery rhyme was started during the black plague in Europe. Children would develop a rec rash with a ring around it (ring around the rosy), this would then become necrotic and foul smelling. So they would put flowers and poseys in the children's pockets to try to mask the smell. (pockets full of poseys)
    Ashes Ashes we all fall down When the children died they would be put in a pile and burned. Of course this all also applied to adults that got the plague. I read somewhere that Sally go round the roses was a take off of the nursery rhyme, But I don't know. I have also heard that it was about lesbians but I don't think that is true. Saddest thing in the whole wide world, see your baby with another girl sounds to me like her lover was cheating on her. Anyway, the song is certainly mysterious. and haunting.
    On the other hand, it could just be about a girl being dumped by her boyfriend, and she was pregnant. That was kept a big secret in those days. Pregnant teenagers were often sent away to homes for unwed mothers til they had the baby and put it up for adoption. This is the definition I believe the song is about.
  • Moanin' Lisa from Chillicothe Mo.This song was huge in '63. It was so hypnotic & you just had to listen to it!! I recall in early fall of '63 I just simply had to buy it. I also got "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes and "Heat Wave" by Martha & The Vandellas. They all were at the top of the charts then. But it was "Sally" that was so darned mysterious. Plus there were several "urban legends" going on among teens about it. Like the breakup story, the lesbian story, the story about it being about scarlet fever, and a graverobber girl-ghoul who steals cemetery roses---and bodies! There were several weird songs released in 1963 too. I still do not know what the real story behind this huge hit really is. The mystery goes on...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 7th 1963, the Jaynetts performed "Sally, Go Round the Roses" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #29 on the Top 100, three weeks later it would peak at #2...
    {See the next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 25th 1963, "Sally, Go 'Round the Roses" by the Jaynetts entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #63; and on September 22nd, 1963 it peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    The two weeks it was at #2 on the Top 100, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton; and records at #3, #4, #5, & #6 were also by girl groups, "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes, "Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas, "My Boyfriends’ Back" by the Angels, and "Then He Kissed Me" by the Crystals, in that order...
    The record was the Jaynetts only Top 100 entry.
  • Sheila from Batesville, ArMusicMama, my mother was Mary Sue Wells. She is in the top left corner of the cover pic. Sadly she passed away about 4 years ago. I asked her about the lesbian aspect of "Sally" and she said that the song was never about lesbians but a song about boyfriend cheating on girlfriend. really a innocent song that people tried to over analysis. I believe she was around 17 when she started singing with the Jaynetts. I loved hearing about the touring and shows when I was growing up. I will always miss her but I will always have "Sally" when I want to hear her singing again.
  • 70s Flashback from Staten Island, Ny, Ny51 years later and we are still speculating about the meanings of the lyrics to this strange wonderful song. But I agree with those who say it's about a boyfriend-girlfriend breakup.
  • Dieter from Toronto, OnLike many others I was a teenager in high school when the Sally Go Round The Roses was on the Hit Parade. I was probably around 15 or 16 at the time and was taking organ lessons after school. Although the entire song is exceptionally well done I was always listening for the few and far between organ riffs. The song was remixed at a later date and the new mix was much cleaner sounding and in stereo however the organ was missing. Here we are now some 50 years later and I finally have an mp3 file of this version which I can edit and play around with. So here's the deal. I have taken the liberty of adding the organ to the remix. The organ has the original settings to achieve exactly the same sound as on the original version. Also the Riffs have been precisely edited to fit into the tracks at exactly the right time. I would be happy to share this with anyone who would care to listen however I need to be able to upload it to a site that can redistribute it. Any suggestions?
  • Fred from Laurel, MdActually, about the only song with even a roughly similar feel to it, from that era, that comes to mind, is the flip side of Jonathan King's single, Everyone's Gone to the Moon -- a song titled, "Summer's Coming." And maybe a song on S&G first album, Wednesday Morning 3am, titled, "The Sun Is Burning."
  • Fred from Laurel, MdWhen I entered college, I started listening to pop/rock music on the top-40 stations on a regular basis for the first time. This is one of a few songs that absolutely captivated me at first hearing -- I guess it must have been 2 or 3 years old at that time, if it debuted in '63. In a musical environment consisting of bright songs (Beatles/Beach Boys/Simon and Garfunkel/Sonny & Cher/Monkees), and purposely dark or malevolent songs (Rolling Stones/Iron Butterfly/Steppenwolf/Vanilla Fudge), and soulful songs (pretty much all of Motown, plus Young Rascals, The Animals, etc.) this one was a real stunner, but quietly -- lilting and dark. It sort of sneaks up on you, and is the very image of haunting. After 45 years, I still haven't got it out of my head, and am delighted to find it again, here.
  • Gerard from Toulouse, FranceLesbian affair gone bad, you say? Well, why not let everyone see things their own way or interpret a song in accordance to their own sexual preferences ... But I fail to understand why "secret" should necessarily involve homosexuality! This song was aimed at the teenage market, so Sally was a teenager and her boyfriend just dated another girl, that's all there is to it! Why "secret", then? Well, don't you folks remember that when you're a teenager - male or female - and you've been dropped by your loved one like an old shoe, it bloody well hurts and you don't want your parents or friends to know! Didn't you ever lock yourself in your room or go and hide in the garden so that no one could see you cry? But if you still want to see a couple of girls in that, why not! After all, a heartache is a heartache... I still have the original single. Never lent it to anyone. Too precious! "They" were not enlightened enough anyway! Even sounds 1000 times better now, on cd with a good stereo!
  • Joe De Lede from Tweed Heads, AustraliaOne of the all-time greats. Artie Butler arrangement; played most of the instruments as well ... Carl Lynch & Al Gorgoni on guitar ... could be Buddy Miles on drums, as per:
    Tuff 369 - Sally, Go 'Round The Roses* / (Instrumental) - 1963 (drummer on this 45 was Buddy Miles) *also recorded in 1966 by The Ikettes on Modern 1015.
    The Jaynettes version is still the best, however Tim Buckley's take is equally mesmerizing.

  • Alan from Waterloo, OnIf Louise Murray, Lezli Valentine or Marie Hood could answer this question that I'm trying to find out:
    There is a promo photo of:
    Carolyn And the Jaynetts
    Personal Manager Gene May
    QBC Exclusive Booking
    1650 Broadway Suite 1410
    New York, New York

    There isn't any information on a Carolyn with The Jaynetts that I can find... can you help or remember?
  • Marcus from Columbus, OhI was eight years old when I heard that tune & was played around September, 1963 & gave me chills and werid visions & one time I would hear the song & to the music part with the organ playing would see a 1958 Cadillac Eldoardo & look at the wheel cover and the center of it would open up like a camera retina & this eye would look at me and wink at me. This song also reminds me of the terrible event in Birmingham, Ala - Sunday, September 15, 1963 and when the song was playing the news interrupped the song and told about a bombed out church and 4 school girls were killed in the event & then went back to the song. The following night i heard the song playing in my head & there was a chase down a part of Columbus, Ohio where I was being chased by 6 car loads of black militants and 9 flying monkeys from "The Wizard of Oz" and they managed to get me in the end when a black woman in a white outfit shot me in the head with a sawed-off shotgun & the car rolled over & blew up with me inside & I woke up with my room on fire & managed to get the fire out. That song associates me with "Birmingham Sunday" and the terrible nightmare I had. By the way there are 4 versions of this classic one-hit wonder & I got them all. There has been covered versions but The Jaynettes will always be a great girl group that did this song. Marcus Brainard
  • Louise from New York City, Nyi am louise murray one of the original girls in the Hearts and Jaynetts.I am still performing. The original girls are Lezli Valentine and Marie. we recorded Sally and Dear Abbie. i am the original girl in the Hearts,I Did the talking part in Lonely Nights. {you great big lump of sugar}.the group members names were Joyce West, Florestine Barnes Hazel Crutchfield and myself Louise Murray, We were the first young girls group in 1954.
  • Lezli A. Valentine from Columbus, OhHello MusicMama-- My name is lezli valentine, one of the original song leaders/writers of "Sally" . . . I never worked for the US Postal Service. I worked for the State as a stenographer (now retired) and recorded a few singles under my name. I have written a new release entitled My Myra. (recorded by J.J. Simmons --released in the UK)I am in touch with Louise from time to time, and talked with Baby Washington and Rosemarie McCoy (writer of Work Out Fine. So you see, MusicMama I read your post and am doing fine. Until next time, be encouraged with love! Have a terrific Summer!Lezli Anetta Valentine
  • Lezli A. Valentine from Columbus, OhHello MusicMama-- My name is lezli valentine, one of the original song leaders/writers of "Sally" . . . I never worked for the US Postal Service. I worked for the State as a stenographer (now retired) and recorded a few singles under my name. I have written a new release entitled My Myra. (recorded by J.J. Simmons --released in the UK)I am in touch with Louise from time to time, and talked with Baby Washington and Rosemarie McCoy (writer of Work Out Fine. So you see, MusicMama I read your post and am doing fine. Until next time, be encouraged with love! Have a terrific Summer!Lezli Anetta Valentine
  • Louise from New York City, Nyim one of the original jaynetts/hearts marie hood, lezli valentine are no longer singing, i am with the hearts, also the super girls. we are working all over the states.look up my email at
  • Greg from Price, UtFrom what I understand, Marie Hood and Lezli Valentine worked for the U.S. Postal Service for years and another member, Marlene Mack, brief recorded with Herb Fame (of Peaches & Herb) during his live concerts.

    One of my all-time favorite songs, a true one-hit wonder with an unbelievably hypnotic score and lyrics. Peaked at No. 2 but should have gone all the way to the top.

    The homosexual aspect of the tune has never been proven, however, and is one of those constant urban legends that will not go away. Unfortunately, the writers of the song, Zell Sanders and Lona Stevens (Spector), have never commented one way or the other.
  • Jesse from Madison, WiMusicMama, were we married in a previous life? I seem to keep finding your comments on some of the coolest songs! I can't add too much other than when I started to hear this regularly (only a few months ago) it sounded to me like it could have come out of San Francisco during the summer of love - 1967, and after reading your comment, it ties in with the homosexual theme... Hmmm, verrry innnteresting! Whatever though, I LOVE this song! My daughter and I heard it a few days ago on the radio and she was singing it loudly in the back seat while I was insidiously jamming to it in the front seat! We BOTH LOVE IT! Entrancing indeed.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, Caneat sound...this record...strange and hypnotic!
  • Musicmama from New York, NyThis is my favorite "girl group" song.

    It seems innocuous at first ("Sally go round the roses"), but becomes, by degrees, more obsessive with each stanza. And the musical arrangement, though it doesn't actually change tempo, seems to "get under your skin" (in a good way) as it progresses.

    I've heard that this song was about a broken lesbian love affair. That makes sense to me, especially in verses like "They won't tell your secret," and "You can sit and cry, not a soul will know." At the time (early '60's)the Jaynetts recorded this, not very many lesbians were "out," and there was a much more virulent stigma attached to homosexuality than there is now, so someone who just lost--and yearns to regain--a love that "dare not speak its name" would want to keep her secret.

    The obsessiveness of this song reminds me in some odd way of Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy," even though it's about an entirely different topic and situation.

    I'd love to know where the Jaynetts are now.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Laura NyroSongwriting Legends In Their Own Words

Laura Nyro talks about her complex, emotionally rich songwriting and how she supports women's culture through her art.

Harry ShearerSongwriter Interviews

Harry is Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap, Mark Shubb in The Folksmen, and Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.

Dave Pirner of Soul AsylumSongwriter Interviews

Dave explains how the video appropriated the meaning of "Runaway Train," and what he thought of getting parodied by Weird Al.

John Lee HookerSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for Bruce Pollock's 1984 conversation with the esteemed bluesman. Hooker talks about transforming a Tony Bennett classic and why you don't have to be sad and lonely to write the blues.

U2Fact or Fiction

How did The Edge get his name? Did they name a song after a Tolkien book? And who is "Angel of Harlem" about?

Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper/Lou Reed)Songwriter Interviews

The co-writer/guitarist on many Alice Cooper hits, Dick was also Lou Reed's axeman on the Rock n' Roll Animal album.