Country Cuts: 8 Great Songs Regarding “Roses”


As long as music exists, someone, somewhere will feel the need to express their adoration for something. It is called the love song. Through the years, roses have been a mainstay in love songs. They are used as a literal device, for symbolism, and to express both the intensity of passion and the misery of heartbreak. Indeed, roses have been a theme in many a love song. And no genre does love songs like Country music. Here are eight classic country cuts regarding roses.  

“A Good Year for the Roses” – George Jones (1970)

This tune of lost love is an exceptionally heartfelt performance in a career full of them. The incomparable George Jones released “A Good Year for the Roses” in the Fall of 1970. Written by Jerry Chesnut, the song was a surefire hit, topping out at #2 on the country singles chart. The cute title aside, Jones’ intense vocal quickly convinces the listener this is not a tune about the local flora. Notable cover versions include a 1981 rendition from Elvis Costello and a 1994 duet between Jones and Alan Jackson.  

  “Rose Garden” – Lynn Anderson (1970)

A seminal recording, not just for country music but for an entire generation. Written by American tunesmith Joe South, the song is an anthem for resiliency. Previous releases of the song proved underwhelming when Lynn Anderson, former star of the Lawrence Welk Show, recorded her version. The result was a crossover phenomenon. “Rose Garden” reached #1 on both the pop and country charts. Its success paved the way for female crossover artists such as Shania Twain and Taylor Swift.


“Roses for Mama” – C.W. McCall (1977)

This late 70s tune from C.W. McCall comes from a unique perspective, using roses to represent a son’s love. It also spans the generational gap. Largely spoken and unapologetically poignant, “Roses for Mama” peaked at #2 on the US Hot Country Songs. The number remains McCall’s second most successful single behind only “Convoy” from 1975. If this song does not convince the listener to buy roses for their mother, no song will.  


“18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses” – Kathy Mattea (1988)

It’s a snappy ditty about longing, now considered a Country classic. Written by brothers Gene and Paul Nelson, “18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses” was a #1 hit for songstress Kathy Mattea. The tune highlights the burdens of the road, and the toll it can take. Kathy’s second #1 of 1988, “18 Wheels” won ACM song of the year, ACM single of the year, and CMA Single of the Year.

 “Two Dozen Roses” – Shenandoah (1989)

Nothing beats roses to try and win back your sweetheart. Except maybe two dozen roses. Appearing on their second album, “Two Dozen Roses” was released by the Alabama based band Shenandoah. Mac McAnally and Robert Byrne penned this tune, which went to #1 in both the United States and Canada. At the time of this posting, Shenandoah has partnered with superstar Luke Combs for a recent duet of this song. It is currently racing up the Country charts.  


“Van Lear Rose” – Loretta Lynn (2004)

As the title track from the legend’s last great album, this tune packs her standard emotive punch. In addition to being the First Lady of Country Music, everyone knows Loretta Lynn is the Coal Miner’s Daughter. “Van Lear Rose” feels like another brilliant chapter to that incredible story. Superbly produced by the exceptional Jack White, the project represented a beautiful resurgence for Loretta at age 72. It won Best Country Album at the 2005 Grammy Awards. 


“Like Red on a Rose” – Alan Jackson (2006)

From the 2006 Alan Jackson album of the same name; this tune conveys a sweet sentiment but features morbid tones. A top 15 hit, producer Alison Krauss characterizes the number as “positive and loving” yet having “a real dark melody”. Written by R.L. Castleman in just 20 minutes, the singer appreciated the tune from the outset. “The first time I heard that demo, I knew it was a great song”, says Jackson. “I think the way [Castleman] put that together … you can’t get more descriptive than ‘like red on a rose’”.   


“Dozen Roses & a Six‐Pack” – Cole Swindell (2014)

“I got a dozen roses if she comes back home”, as the song states, “And a six pack if she don’t”. Either way, you’re covered. From singer/songwriter Cole Swindell’s debut studio album, this tune is a clever mix of satire and sincerity. Co-written with Adam Sanders and Aaron Goodvin, it is the age-old conundrum of not knowing what you have until it is gone. Expressed the way only a country song can. “To me, songs like ‘Dozen Roses & a Six-Pack’ are songs about where I come from”, says Swindell.

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