Rolling Stones songs: Dead Flowers
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
Well I hope you won’t see me in my ragged company, Well, you know I could never be alone…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England, Dec. 15 1969-Apr. 24 1970
Guest musicians: Ian Stewart (piano)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
In this song, Mick Jagger addresses a girl named Susie with more than a little disdain: She’s welcome to send him dead flowers, but he’ll put roses on her grave. The music and lyrics both have a distinct country vibe. Jagger explained in 1995: “I love country music, but I find it very hard to take it seriously. I also think a lot of country music is sung with the tongue in cheek, so I do it tongue-in-cheek. The harmonic thing is very different from the blues. It doesn’t bend notes in the same way, so I suppose it’s very English, really. Even though it’s been very Americanized, it feels very close to me, to my roots, so to speak.”
Mick Jagger, 2003: “The ‘country’ songs we recorded later, like ‘Dead Flowers’ on Sticky Fingers or Far Away Eyes on Some Girls, are slightly different (than our earlier ones). The actual music is played completely straight, but it’s me who’s not going legit with the whole thing, because I think I’m a blues singer not a country singer – I think it’s more suited to Keith’s voice than mine.”
The line, “I’ll be in my basement room with a needle and a spoon” is probably a reference to shooting up heroin.
This song rolled during the final credits of The Big Lebowski. Allen Klein, Rolling Stones manager and owner of the song initially wanted $150,000 for the movie’s use of it. He was then convinced to let them use it for free when he saw the scene in which The Dude says, “I hate the f—in’ Eagles, man!”
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Dead Flowers” is one of the most pessimistic songs ever written by Mick
Jagger and Keith Richards. In it they describe a relationship in the process
of breaking apart between a melancholy man and a woman for whom
everything seems to go right, who has become the queen of the
underground. The final verse leaves no room for doubt: Well, when you’re
sitting back in your rose-pink Cadillac… I’ll be in my basement room with a
needle and a spoon and another girl to take my pain away. The refrain is
also utterly bleak, with a good dose of cynicism to boot: Send me dead
flowers to my wedding, and I won’t forget to put roses on your grave.
“Maybe this is the first Goth country song,” suggests Rennie Sparks (of
The Handsome Family).
As so often in Rolling Stones songs, however, the words and the music
are out of sync with each other. Mick Jagger tells this bleak story set to
optimistic country and western music. Work started on the recording of
“Dead Flowers” on December 15, 1969 at Olympic Sound Studios in
London. This was less than ten days after the drama of Altamont. For this
reason the tune can perhaps be seen as functioning as a kind of exorcism
(while at the same time testifying to the influence of Gram Parsons)…
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?
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