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"Rose Garden" (also known and covered as "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden") is a song written by Joe South, best known as recorded by country music singer Lynn Anderson, and originally released by Billy Joe Royal in 1967. The first charting version was by Dobie Gray in the spring of 1969 (US #119,[2] Canada #89).[3]

"Rose Garden"
Lynn Anderson-Rose Garden 1970 single cover.jpg
Single by Lynn Anderson
from the album Rose Garden
B-side"Nothing Between Us"
ReleasedOctober 8, 1970[1]
Format45 rpm, 12" 45 rpm
GenreCountry, country pop
Songwriter(s)Joe South
Producer(s)Glenn Sutton
Lynn Anderson singles chronology
"No Love at All"
"Rose Garden"
"You're My Man"

Lynn Anderson's October 1970 release topped the U.S. Billboard country chart for five weeks, reached No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, and hit No. 1 on both Cash Box's and Record World's pop and country singles charts. The song was also a major pop hit internationally, topping the charts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, South Africa, and throughout Europe. The single achieved sales of over 50,000 copies in Australia, being eligible for the award of a Gold Disc. [4]

Anderson's version of "Rose Garden" remains among the most successful crossover recordings of all-time.[5]


Lynn Anderson versionEdit

The Lynn Anderson single was her third release for Columbia Records in 1970, after several years of recording for Chart Records. It proved to be the first crossover record of her career.

"Rose Garden" was originally an album cut by the song's writer, Joe South, in 1969. Several other male vocalists recorded it on albums including Freddy Weller, Billy Joe Royal, and Dobie Gray and Third Avenue Blues Band. A recording by the girl group The Three Degrees, best known for their 1974 hit "When Will I See You Again", also predated Lynn Anderson's hit version. Of these, only Gray's ever charted, bubbling under and reaching number 119 on the Billboard charts.

Anderson wanted to record the song but her producer (and husband) Glenn Sutton felt it was a "man's song", in part because of the line "I could promise you things like big diamond rings". According to Anderson, Sutton agreed to record it as a potential album cut when there was time left during one of her scheduled recording sessions. After arranging a more up-tempo, lighthearted melody, Sutton and the studio musicians, which included a mandolin player as well as a string section, were impressed with the results. Columbia Records' executive Clive Davis was equally impressed and insisted the song be released as a single in both the country and pop markets. Shortly after its breakthrough on American Top 40 radio, the song became an international hit. A cover version released by Sandie Shaw in UK failed to chart, as Anderson's version became a major success there. The song became Anderson's signature tune and one of the biggest hits of the 1970s, in any genre of music.[citation needed] Anderson won a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1971, and Joe South earned two Grammy nominations: "Best Country Song" and "Song of the Year" in the pop field.

Anderson said, "I believe that 'Rose Garden' was released at just the right time. People were trying to recover from the Vietnam years. The message in the song—that if you just take hold of life and go ahead, you can make something out of nothing—people just took to that."[6]

After her Columbia heyday, Lynn Anderson recorded new performances of the song several times for post-1982 albums, including a bluegrass version that was featured in her 2004 comeback album The Bluegrass Sessions. This album earned Anderson her first Grammy nomination in over 30 years.

Critical receptionEdit

David Cantwell and Bill Friskics-Warren included Anderson's 1970 recording in their 2003 book Heartaches by the Number: Country Music's 500 Greatest Singles, highlighting its arrangement: "The opening strings, lots of them, ominous an unforgettable, snap your head back like a slap in the face," Cantwell wrote, also noting "the most pinched, manic pedal-steel guitar you've ever heard."[7]

Chart performanceEdit

Cover versionsEdit

Following Anderson's success with the song, many artists recorded it as an album track including The Suicide Machines, Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, Dottie West, Glen Campbell, Percy Faith, Renée Martel, Carol Burnett, and Morrissey.

k.d. lang and the Reclines versionEdit

Canadian country pop group k.d. lang and the Reclines covered the song for their 1987 album Angel with a Lariat. The single was Lang's first release in the United States but failed to chart.

Chart (1987) Peak
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[31] 7
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[32] 45

Martina McBride versionEdit

"(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden"
Single by Martina McBride
from the album Timeless
ReleasedAugust 1, 2005
LabelRCA Nashville
Songwriter(s)Joe South
Producer(s)Martina McBride
Martina McBride singles chronology
"God's Will"
"(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden"
"I Still Miss Someone"

In 2005, Martina McBride included the song on her album of covers, Timeless. This album featured classic country songs from over the years, including "Rose Garden". The song was released as a single, peaking at 18 on the country singles chart in the US.

Chart (2005) Peak
Brazil (ABPD)[33] 83
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[34] 18
US Billboard Hot 100[35] 98


Canadian synthpop duo Kon Kan sampled parts of the song and its lyrics in their 1988 single "I Beg Your Pardon". In 2010, Canadian hip hop artist Shad sampled a recording of "Rose Garden" by The Three Degrees.[36]


  1. ^ "Rose Garden". Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  2. ^ Joel Whitburn's Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100 1959-2004
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1969-06-02. Retrieved 2019-06-17.
  4. ^ The Go Set Chart Book, Australia's First National Charts page 9, ISBN 978-1-387-71246-5.
  5. ^ Lynn Anderson's "Rose Garden" at Archived 2007-08-14 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Lynn Anderson's "Rose Garden" at Archived 2007-08-14 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Cantwell, David; Friskics-Warren, Bill (2003). Heartaches by the Number: Country Music's 500 Greatest Singles. Nashville, Tennessee: Vanderbilt University Press/Country Music Foundation Press. p. 49. ISBN 0-8265-1424-3.
  8. ^ " – Lynn Anderson – Rose Garden" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  9. ^ " – Lynn Anderson – Rose Garden" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  10. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 3738." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  11. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 3760." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  12. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1971-07-24. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  13. ^ " – Lynn Anderson – Rose Garden". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  14. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Rose Garden". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  15. ^ " – Lynn Anderson – Rose Garden" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  16. ^ " – Lynn Anderson – Rose Garden". VG-lista.
  17. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  18. ^ " – Lynn Anderson – Rose Garden". Swiss Singles Chart.
  19. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  20. ^ "Lynn Anderson Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  21. ^ "Lynn Anderson Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  22. ^ "Lynn Anderson Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  23. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, February 6, 1973
  24. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc)|format= requires |url= (help). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  25. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada".
  26. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1971" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  27. ^ Swiss Year-End Charts, 1971
  28. ^
  29. ^ Billboard, December 25, 1971.
  30. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 25, 1971". Archived from the original on October 6, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  31. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 8800." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  32. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 0797." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  33. ^ "Brazil" (PDF). ABPD. October 6, 2001. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  34. ^ "Martina McBride Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  35. ^ "Martina McBride Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  36. ^ Retrieved 4 March 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External linksEdit