Fifty years ago today, on Dec. 26, 1970, Lynn Anderson‘s single “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden” became her first No. 1 hit. The song was the title track of her 10th studio album.
“Rose Garden” was written by Joe South and included on his 1969 album, Instrospect. Freddy Weller, Billy Joe Royal and Dobie Gray each recorded the song as well, but it wasn’t until Anderson’s version that it became a chart-topping single.
“It was popular because it touched on emotions,” Anderson said. “It was perfectly timed. It was out just as we came out of the Vietnam years, and a lot of people were trying to recover.
“This song stated that you can make something out of nothing,” she continued. “You take it and go ahead. It fit me well, and I’ll be proud to be connected to it until I die.”
Anderson was originally discouraged to record “Rose Garden” by her husband and producer, Glenn Sutton, who said that that the song — with lines like, “I could promise you things like big diamond rings / But you don’t find roses growin’ on stalks of clover / So you better think it over / Well, if sweet-talking you could make it come true / I would give you the world right now on a silver platter / But what would it matter?” – was more suited for a man.
k.d. lang recorded “Rose Garden” for her 1987 album, Angel With a Lariat, and Martina McBride released it as a single from her 2005 record, Timeless; McBride’s version became a Top 20 hit.