Today’s song is similar to Jeff Phillips’ “Every Thing I Touch Turns To Tears” (posted on this blog a little while ago) in that musically it’s quite nice, but lyrically it’s very, very suspect.
Here’s Australian band Jigsaw (not the British one) with “A Rose Has To Die” (1974):
I like the music – it’s nicely poppy, chirpy, and bubblegummy – but those lyrics…
I would prefer not to reprint the lyrics. I think it’s better to let you just listen to them.
I must admit that the first time I heard the song and got to the chorus I laughed out loud. It reminded me of those phrases like “Every time you … [choose a sin] …, God kills a kitten.” That sort of thing. (I have a feeling that my reaction wasn’t what the song intended.) I wondered who on Earth would pen such lines as “A rose has to die every time you tell a lie” and “Watch each rose bow its head when it knows our love is dead,” so I went a-searchin’…
It turns out that a chap by the name of Ben Findon wrote it. Ben also wrote Billy Ocean‘s debut single, the faux-Motown “Love Really Hurts Without You,” which was the only single of Billy’s that I really liked. (It was dispiriting to hear Billy competing with Lionel Ritchie throughout his career – when Lionel released a poppy song, Billy would release a poppy song; and when Lionel released a ballad, Billy would release a ballad etc.)
I’m sure that Ben Findon was entirely sincere with those words, but I have trouble keeping a straight face when I listen to them, especially when they’re nestled in such a jolly singalong tune.
Here’s another version of the song (yes, somebody actually covered it). It’s by The Dooleys, a UK act I don’t think I’ve ever heard of (I certainly don’t remember them). Before you play it, though, I must issue a warning about the video: you may find yourself with your mouth open but unable to speak (as I was). This is a result of being exposed to the combination of the lead singer’s sincerity and his outfit:
The Dooleys – “A Rose Has To Die” (1978)
And, believe it or not, there’s yet another version (boy, this song was much more popular than I ever thought it would be). It’s by The Ryders, a group from the Netherlands. I wasn’t able to find that version, I’m afraid – but here’s a picture of them at Spotnicksfestivalen 2008:
And here’s a video of them at that very festival:
By the way, there’s one more thing about “A Rose Has To Die” that I want to mention. I had originally thought about not mentioning this because it’s neither here nor there, but it’s a musical coincidence that’s been bugging me and I feel compelled to point it out.
Jigsaw – “A Rose Has To Die” (1974) (excerpt)
I know it’s only two notes – and they’re hummed – but every time I hear the Jigsaw singer humming “Mm-mm” just before the verse starts in “A Rose Has To Die,” I’m reminded of that humming at the end of the chorus of “Long Live Love.” Every time.
Anyway, here’s the full version of “Long Live Love,” one of my favourite non-Beatles songs from the 60’s. Love it, love it, love it:
Oh, no! I was just reading the Wikipedia entry for “Long Live Love” and it notes that Sandie Shaw was so confident that “Long Live Love” was going to be a hit she turned down “It’s Not Unusual“. Now that I think of it, “Long Live Love” and “It’s Not Unusual” share some of the same chords and rhythms…