Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Best Produced Songs Ever - Part 1. "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden"

Recorded in 1970 and produced by Glenn Sutton, Lynn Anderson's "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" was a cross-over hit. Anderson won a Grammy for Best Country female vocal performance, and the great Joe South won a song-writing Grammy for the song. Country purists, perhaps understandably, by and large hated the song as well as the production with its "Countrypolitan" sound including strings (!) and such. It was always a sweet, haunting song for me and my childhood, and I remember really enjoying it when it was popular.
But it wasn't until RE-hearing the song some 20-25 years later driving in the car one day that I realized just how amazing and necessary the production was/is to this song. It is breathtaking, and I remember re-hearing the song with my mouth on the floor as to all the little details thrown in - a dash of this, a dash of that - which makes the song truly come alive. I mean, to sit on a stool and play this song on an acoustic guitar...I suppose it would work ok...but you really would only think of it as just a "normal" song at best. But what Glenn Sutton does here! Incredible. Those staccato opening strings and that single thumping drum announcing that this song, indeed, is in the house and demands to be heard - well, now you're hooked and lost in the song before you know it, and the ride begins. The harmonies, the guitars laying down the beat along with a skipping, almost jazzy drum. The staccato electric guitar dueting with Anderson's voice...then strings doing the same thing and swirling, cascading all the way through the chorus. Then comes the steel guitar calling back and forth to the strings like some classical piece. It's just "pixie dust magic" as Elvis Costello once said of ABBA's music. Download it today not only for a piece of music history, but for an example of fantastic production.

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