I’m not sure who exactly originated the quote “April showers bring May flowers”, but it’s a common reference to these two back to back springtime months of the year. With rain follows beautiful flowers and this is what inspired me to find ten popular songs with related references to flowers. The rose is by far the most common flower in song titles, however, a couple of other different flowers made the list too. Besides roses, the word “flowers” are also common in songs. I chose songs that have charted on Billboard, so they will be more familiar to the readers rather than choosing album tracks of songs that may refer to a different flower, but are a bit too obscure. Some of these songs are by some of the most extraordinary vocalists. Many of them have been at #1 on the Billboard charts. I think after you read this list you’ll want to go out and buy some of these flowers. Sit back and find out what are the top ten songs dedicated to flowers for celebrating the month of May.
10.) The Rose – Bette Midler (1980)
It’s an award-winning song from the film The Rose, which starred Bette Midler. She also recorded a single that was #1 on the Adult Contemporary Billboard chart. In the film the character is simply known as “The Rose” who was loosely based on the female rock legend, Janis Joplin. The songwriter, Amanda McBroom, won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Lyrically it is the most descriptive of this popular flower not only in songs, but in literature and pop culture.
9.) Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations (1968)
Here is one of the few songs with references to a flower that isn’t a rose. Buttercups are primarily yellow flowers from the poppy family. They usually bloom in the month of April and May. This song isn’t literally about the flower, but a bittersweet love song. It’s upbeat and catchy considering the subject matter.
8.) Daisy Jane– America (1975)
The title refers to a girl’s name, yet when we hear the word “daisy” we tend to automatically think of the flower. In the song it’s about the challenges of a romantic relationship trying to work itself out.
7.) Ramblin’ Rose – Nat King Cole (1962)
This legendary singer with the beautiful soft, clear baritone voice initially recorded this hit song that sold over a million copies. It has since been covered by numerous artists about the very popular flower, most likely the rambler roses. There are many references to it being about that type of rose and not a girl’s name such as: “Wild and wind-blown, that’s how you’ve grown, Who can cling to a ramblin’ rose?”
6.) Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison (1988)
Metaphorically in this power ballad the rose and its thorns represent a lot of tension this rock group experienced regarding a love triangle of sorts. It was written based on the break-up of a relationship the frontman, Brett Michaels, had with his girlfriend. The rose represented the band’s successful career and the thorns were the problems that came with its success.
5.) You Don’t Bring Me Flowers – Neil Diamond & Barbra Streisand (1978)
Here is the first of a few songs with flowers in the title. This beautiful duet by the incomparable Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond sing very convincingly about two lovers who are drifting apart when their relationship has taken on dramatic changes. Initially Streisand ad Diamond recorded this song on their separate albums. It was a DJ who decided to splice together the two of them singing the same song. Radio listeners fell in love with this ingenious version, which later prompted the record executives to bring the two superstars together for an official recording that reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
4.) Garden Party – Rick Nelson (1972)
Unfortunately the reference to garden in this hit song for the former teen idol was about a concert at Madison Square Gardens where he was billed as part of a Rock n’ Roll Revival along with other great legends such as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Nelson decided to perform some other covers of songs by other artists instead of his own hits from his teen career. The story goes he was booed when he began singing other songs instead of his familiar hits. The experience devastated him and he wrote this song as a result. Rick Nelson references a lot of the musical celebrities in the audience such as John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison as if it were some sort of garden party. Naturally when you think of gardens you automatically think of flowers.
3.) Where Have All the Flowers Gone – Peter, Paul and Mary (1962)
You can find the song on this folk trio’s first album Peter, Paul and Mary. There are many versions of this popular folk song, but I prefer the one by this fine group of singers. They have such exquisite soft harmonies. Pete Seeger, the songwriter, saw in his notebook a reference from a traditional Ukranian folk song with the passages “Where are the flowers, the girls have plucked them. Where are the girls, they’ve all taken husbands. Where are the men, they’re all in the army.” This is what inspired Seeger to write the song with flowers as a prominent reference in the title and lyrics.
2.) San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) – Scott McKenzie (1967)
There are references to flowers in the song that was the start of the flower power hippie generation where San Francisco was the place to be for young people during the late 1960’s. It was written by John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas to promote the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. It was a huge hit throughout Europe and it peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song captures an era with such precision and perfect imagery. I love singing along to it whenever I hear it on the radio.
1.) Kiss from a Rose – Seal (1994)
Seal is one of my favorite singers and this is the perfect song about a flower, especially the ever popular rose. Kiss from a Rose was featured in the movie Batman Forever‘s soundtrack. It was played during the film’s ending credits. When Batman Forever was released it helped propel the single to the top of the Adult Contemporary chart where it stayed at #1 for twelve weeks. The song eventually won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year, Song of The Year and for Seal as Best Pop Vocal Performance. There are many references to the rose in the lyrics especially “I’ve been kissed by a rose on the gray“. It’s a unique song on many levels with its unrestrained harmonies, unusual waltz time and impressive sounds. I love its introduction with the high notes Seal is able to reach. Kiss from a Rose is the quintessential flower song.
Flowers are always a popular gift for Valentine’s and Mother’s Day, which is in the month of May. Everyone loves to receive flowers. Music is another great gift people like receiving, so the combination of flowers and music certainly go together. You can download these songs about flowers immediately for your listening pleasure at www.amazon.com and www.iTunes.com. Usually bouquets of flowers are expensive to buy, especially roses, but music is a lot more affordable and a great substitute.