By Madeline Bocaro
© Madeline Bocaro, 2020. No part of this site may be reproduced or re-blogged in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.
Let’s tiptoe through the tulips to the secret garden!
The Magic Plants have a great two-chord track from 1966 called ‘I’m a Nothing’! This sounds like a cross between the Beatles’ ‘I’ Should have Known Better’ Wayne/Jayne County’s version of ‘In the Nighttime’! It has great lyrics about a rock star admitting that he is really ‘nothing’ when all the makeup is removed. Tom Finn who sang back-up vocals played bass in the band The Left Banke, who had a hit with ‘Walk Away Renee’ also in 1966.
‘Garden of My Mind’ was a 1967 single by The Mickey Finn. (Not to be confused with Mickey Finn from T. Rex). It appears on the Rhino Records compilation Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond, 1964–1969. This was a 4-disc box set released in 2001 by my late, great friend Gary Stewart. This sounds like ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone’ and Roxy Music’s ‘Remake Remodel’ playing simultaneously!
The great 1967 album Future by The Seeds features ‘March of the Flower Children’. They moved from their garage sound to psychedelia, expanding to use of more instruments and orchestrations. This tuba-laden tune really takes off after the one-minute narrative at the start.
On the cusp of psychedelia and at the dawn of Heavy Metal came Iron Butterfly with the 17-minute track ‘Inna Gadda Da Vida’ – a drunken slur of its former title, ‘In the Garden of Eden’. I am not suggesting that this epic needs any more airplay than it has already gotten, but here it is. This is every DJ’s favorite bathroom break song.
‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ is of course the classic Beatles tune. During his time in Almeria Spain filming How I Won the War (September 1966) a villa that John Lennon rented had wrought-iron gates resembling those of a children’s home called Strawberry Field in his Liverpool neighborhood. This inspired him to write the song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. His original handwritten lyrics bear these lines (later replaced with ‘No one I think is in my tree’).
“There’s no one on my wavelength
I mean, it’s either too high or too low
That is you can’t you know tune in…”
In a mere few weeks (one month after his 26th birthday) John would find someone completely in tune with his wavelength – Yoko Ono! John returned to London from Spain after filming on November 3, 1966 and met Yoko four days later.
Yoko re: ‘Strawberry Fields’
“Because I was making songs with all dissonant sounds. It impressed me. I was surprised a pop song could be that way.
I like the song. Musically, it was very terrific. And there’s a lot of connections about it. I mean, I think of John as an artist, a songwriter, a fellow artist. But also, he was my husband, you know. And I remember all his pain as a child, sort of looking at Strawberry Fields, which was an orphanage, you know. He always told me about his Aunt Mimi saying, whenever he was out of hand, Mimi would say, “You can go there. You’re lucky you’re not there, John.” So, Strawberry Fields to him was connected with this strange kind of fear and love, love for the kind of children that were very close to his condition. John was in a better position. So there’s that love and that strange fear for it.
It’s very strong thing for him. That sort of painful memory that he had of Strawberry Fields, he transferred that into a song. And made it positive. And that song was transferred into a park. [Laughs] It’s a very strong thing that I witnessed. So it means a lot to me…”
-A Conversation with Yoko, American Songwriter 1992
‘Octopus’s Garden’ is sung by Ringo on The Beatles 1969 album Abbey Road.
Listen (2019 Remaster): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9VzJpl05N0
See my story about the 50th anniversary Abbey Road remaster!
Abbey Road Takes Me Home
‘Garden Party’ by Rick Nelson is about a Rock ‘n Roll Revival concert at Madison Square Garden in NYC in 1971 at which he was booed by the crowd. Rick was on the bill with legendary 1950s/60s artists including Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, with notable legends in the audience as well. Rick performed his great song ‘Hello Mary Lou’ which was a big hit when he was ‘Ricky Nelson’. But his other tunes did not go down well. He felt dejected and wrote this song.
Bob Dylan released his 20th album called Saved in 1980, when he was born again. ‘In The Garden’ is a gorgeous gospel style anthem with amazing ascending chord progressions. This tune, along with ‘Pressing On’ is the most beautiful on the album. I saw him live during this tour and he was spectacular! I can only find live versions on YouTube but the studio version is great with more keyboards.
Listen (live): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-9WARhR_Yo
Here is a song that we wish never had to be written, yet it is so beautiful. ‘Empty Garden’ was written in 1982 by Elton John (and Bernie Taupin) for his dear friend John Lennon who was murdered in 1980. Bernie Taupin’s lyrics are poignant and heart wrenching. Lennon is portrayed as a gardener, which he essentially was, tending to the earth and planting seeds.
…He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And now it all looks strange…It’s funny how one insect can damage so much grain
And we are so amazed, we’re crippled and we’re dazed
A gardener like that one, no one can replace…
And I’ve been knocking
But no one answers
And I’ve been knocking
Most all the day
Oh, and I’ve been calling
Oh, hey hey Johnny
Can’t you come out to play
Johnny, can’t you come out to play in your empty garden
Watch official video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWyy7Huc6KA
‘Beautiful Gardens’ is on The Cramps album Psychedelic Jungle from 1981. It resembles The Munsters theme song with lyrics about losing touch with reality in a creepy garden.
‘I Build this Garden for Us’ by Lenny Kravitz is on his debut album Let Love Rule released in 1989.
GET OFF MY LAWN!
Tom Jones had a big hit with the country song ‘Green, Green Grass of Home’ in 1966. It was written by Claud Putman Jr. and was previously recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis and later by many others including Charlie Pride, Merle Haggard, Trini Lopez, Elvis Presley and Joan Baez. The lyrics are about a sweet homecoming which turns out to only be the dream of a man who is now on death row. Tom Jones and Jerry Lee Lewis did a television duet of the song in 2006.
‘Lawns of Dawns’ appears on the 1968 masterpiece by Nico, The Marble Index.
I cannot understand the way I feel
Until I rest on lawns of dawns—
Can you follow me?
‘Trelawny Lawn’ is one of Marc Bolan’s mystical lands on the 2nd Tyrannosaurus Rex album, released in 1968 Prophets Seers and Sages, The Angels of the Ages. This followed their first album My People were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair… But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows. As you can see, the album titles were as lengthy than some of the song lyrics!
The flowing mane of pain swells on Trelawny Lawn
Stark handsome eyes decide the unicorn
Is a beast of borrowed wisdom
Like a thrush in the yielding harvest field
The prophet deems snow.
The silent stork of sadness scans Trelawny Lawn
The lion, the unicorn it’s horn in the lap of Beth
Laments the dawn
Beguiled, the scribish jacket-man his cap a skull-of-rat
Is but a pawn.
The Grass Roots had a big pop hit with ‘Sooner or Later‘ in 1971. Their other 1970s hits include ‘Midnight Confessions’ and ‘Temptation Eyes’.
Grazing in the Grass was first an instrumental recorded by Hugh Masekela from South Africa. It was a huge hit in 1968. The faster version we are more familiar with is by The Friends of Distinction recorded in 1969 with lyrics.
Listen – Hugh Masekela: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxXZF60EPdM
Listen -The Friends of Distinction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UHsjvPOZ3c
‘Lawnmower’ is a song on Sparks’ 2020 album, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip. Russell Mael’s layered, pleasantly relentless ‘La la la’s’ propel the infectious upbeat tune. Having grown up in the suburbs, I remember guys like this. Proud green thumb dads competing for the greenest lawns, yelling ‘Get off my grass!” to us pesky kids. Now, thanks to Sparks these lawn guys have their own theme song.
Watch the fabulous video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPSFpaCQEvA
Read my review of the new 2020 Sparks Album!
‘Honeysuckle Rose’ is a 1934 tune by Fats Waller. It became a standard, covered by many. Here also is a great version by Sarah Vaughan.
Watch – Sarah Vaughan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lt8dKZSvkjA
‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’ is by the great Tiny Tim. This was his signature song, sung in a high falsetto voice while playing his ukulele. Tiny was a popular oddity featured on talk shows in the 1960s.
Watch: – Beat Club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9TtUjZVTJQ
Canadian group, The Poppy Family were always on the radio in 1969 with ‘Which Way You Going’ Billy?’ The singer was then seventeen-year-old Susan Pesklevits, whose voice was as smooth as Karen Carpenter’s. She was married to band member Terry Jacks (who had a hit with ‘Seasons in the Sun’).
‘Flowers in the Rain’ by The Move was released in 1967. This was prior to Roy Wood joining the band, and features vocals by Carl Wayne. This may be the only song lyric to feature the word ‘eiderdown’ besides Elton John’s ‘Amoreena’.
The song with the lyrics, “I love the flower girl” is actually called ‘The Rain, the Park & Other Things’. The popular psychedelic single was released in 1967 by the very conventional family band, The Cowsills.
‘(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden’ was written by Joe South in 1967 and recorded by himself and also by Billy Joe Royal. Dobie Gray had a minor hit with the song in 1969. Lynn Anderson made it a worldwide hit in 1970.
“Dandelion” is a baroque style song that the Rolling Stones never perform live. Featuring a harpsichord, it was the B-side of ‘We Love You, released in the summer of 1967. Dandelion was the name of Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg’s daughter, who later changed her name to Angela.
Another Jagger/Richards song ‘Dead Flowers’ appears on The Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers released in 1971. This features the great guitar work of the stoic Mick Talyor. It’s probably the only country styled song with lyrics about heroin. Jagger sings this song (with his famous) tongue-in-cheek!
I’ll be in my basement room
with a needle and a spoon
THIS IS GREAT!!! Watch ‘Dead Flowers’ – Live @ The Marquee 1971 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oPInSfh6H4
‘Hyacinth House’ by The Doors is from their 1971 album L.A. Woman. We still don’t know what they are doing there.
The country song ‘Paper Roses’ was first recorded by Anita Bryant in 1960. It was Marie Osmond’s first single at age 13 in 1973 – a No. 1 hit in the USA.
Mott The Hoople recorded the beautiful ballad ‘Rose’ in 1973 which remained an obscure B-side until their live Broadway performance captured on Mott The Hoople Live in 1974.
Listen – 1973: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwYFa0krgAQ
Listen – 1974 Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px7mrzIcm08
The debut album by The Damned (Damned, Damned, Damned) is considered to be the very first U.K. punk rock album, released in early 1977. Soupy Sales would have been proud of the album cover on which all the band members are smeared in pies. The album was produced by Nick Lowe. ‘New Rose’ was the advance single released at the time of the 1976 Anarchy in the U.K. tour with The Sex Pistols and The Heartbreakers.
The smooth and poetic track ‘Poppies’ is on Patti Smith’s second album Radio Ethiopia released in 1976.
The Seeds from California are known for their psychedelic hit’ Pushin’ Too Hard’ but I prefer ‘Can’t Seem to Make You Mine’ released in 1965. I love Sky Saxon’s vocal. The Ramones did a great cover of this on their album Acid Eaters in 1993. There’s a great documentary about the band made in 2014 called The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard. Check out their great 1967 album Future.
Listen – The Ramones https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYOFilCF55s
‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ is a single by Tears For Fears from 1989
So without love and a promise land
We’re fools to the rules of a Government plan
Kick out the style! Bring back the jam!
Sowing the Seeds
The popular tune ‘Poison Ivy’ was written by Leiber and Stoller and recorded by The Coasters in 1959 and later by many others. It’s about a girl named Ivy with a bad reputation. The co-authors confirmed that Ivy was carrying an STD. The lyrics mention several other diseases such as mumps, measles and chicken pox – but in the end, if you catch what Ivy’s got, it will make you itch. The advice given is “you can look but you better not touch”. And the prescription is “an ocean of calamine lotion.”
‘Return of the Giant Hogweed’ about a poisonous plant is on the Genesis album Nursery Cryme. I had this album when it came out, but it gave me the creeps and I gave it away!
‘Venus Fly trap & the Bug’ is a slow jazz tune on the 1979 documentary film soundtrack album Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret life of Plants ‘Black Orchid’ is another nice track from this album.
Listen: ‘The Secret Life of Plants’ : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PveWXfUZEJg
Listen: Black Orchid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUxFQ5QBiYk
‘Under the Ivy’ is by Kate Bush on her 1985 album Hounds of Love.
I must include something sung by Robert PLANT – so I’ll choose the cool and funky Led Zeppelin song, ‘The Crunge’. This is a weird tune riffing on the style and words of James Brown, “Take it to the bridge.” Plant cannot find the bridge on a song that has no bridge!
Clint Eastwood sings ‘I Talk to the Trees’ composed by Lerner & Lower in the film Paint Your Wagon in 1969. They don’t listen to him.
‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree’ is a 1973 hit by Tony Orlando and Dawn. This is a cute popular song about a convict awaiting release, hoping that his girlfriend is still waiting for him.
The Cure released the really cool track ‘A Forest’ in 1980 on their album Seventeen Seconds. This is not a typical Goth piece – it’s atmospheric and synthetic. Really nice.
Iggy Pop recorded the great song ‘Neon Forest’ on his album Brick By Brick released in 1990.
The neon forest is my home
And like a cartoon cat I roam
Where only kids are still alive
And anyway they’re gonna fry
Watch – Live @ Paris Olympia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjyOY9_sycQ
‘Story of an Oak Tree’ is a bonus track – in Japan only – on Yoko Ono’s 2013 album Take Me to the Land of Hell.
In this poignant song, a small and large oak tree represent Yoko’s son Sean and his father, John Lennon.
The small tree is beside an old bark that was hit by lightning (just as Lennon was struck down in his prime). In Yoko’s voice, Sean – who was very young when John was murdered, remembers “he taught me about life – that was when I was five.” As a storm approaches, leaves, and birds scatter. Thunder reminds Sean of his dad. He inherits John’s strength and wisdom, cherishing memories although he is no longer here. I am thinking of the acorns that John and Yoko planted in the garden at Coventry Cathedral in England*, and the two oak trees that they brought into this world. In a way, Sean has grown from an acorn fallen from their trees in this song.
Yoko often conjures the image of a tree in her memories of John.
“Some people might think that I’m overshadowed
but I’m in the shade of this beautiful tree, and the tree is protecting me.”
-Yoko, South Bank show 1999
“All trees are my friends. When I whisper, I always make sure to say pass it on.
So all trees get the message and none of them get jealous.”
– Yoko, Twitter – summer 2016
I walked through the park and saw a young oak tree growing,
Growing beside an old bark hit by lightning
I asked the young tree how he wished to be
He shook his leaves and sung to me
Trees were shaking their leaves one by one
A storm was coming as they said
I heard thunder, in the far far distance
The wind was howling, the birds flew away
When I hear thunder, I think of my father,
He taught me about life, that was when I was five.
It’s true that some days are more than grey
But we learn to get by day by day.
I’m a strong oak tree like my father used to be
Though deep in my heart, the memory’s still there.
The sky is clearer now and the wind is fair
The world is beautiful and I like it out here
I’m a strong oak tree like my father used to be
Though deep in my heart, the memory’s still there
The sky is clearer now and the wind is fair
The world is beautiful and I like it out here
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See more in my Playlist category:
About A Song
Eat to the Beat