Ricky Nelson – Garden Party

Songs like Hello Mary Lou, Lonesome Town, and Traveling Man from the fifties and sixties still sound good today.

He was playing in a Rock and Roll revival show in 1971 at Madison Square Gardens with other artists such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Bobby Rydell. Ricky was releasing new music and he did not look the way he did in the 50s. He had long hair and dressed modern. He started off with some of his old songs the fans responded enthusiastically but then he played “Country Honk” a country version of the Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Women.” That is when it went south.

He started to hear booing and eventually left the stage. There are mixed reports about the booing. Some say there was a disturbance in the crowd with policemen escorting people out and that is what the booing was aimed at… not Ricky. Either way, he got a great song out of it.

He wrote the song about what happened with some references to ex- Beatles, Yoko. Elvis and Chuck Berry.

These references are from Wikipedia

A garden party – October 15, 1971’s Rock ‘n Roll Revival concert at Madison Square Garden, New York City
My old friends – fellow performers at the concert Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Bobby Rydell
Yoko – Yoko Ono
Yoko’s walrus – John Lennon
Mr. Hughes – George Harrison
(Mr. Hughes) hid in Dylan’s shoes – Harrison’s planned (but later abandoned) album of Bob Dylan covers
I said hello to Mary Lou, she belongs to me – Nelson’s song “Hello Mary Lou”, which he played at the concert; also a reference to “She Belongs to Me”, a Bob Dylan song covered by Nelson
I sang a song about a Honky-Tonk – The Rolling Stones song “Country Honk”, the song that allegedly caused the booing
And it was time to leave – Nelson’s subsequent departure
Out stepped Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry’s song “Johnny B. Goode”
Playing guitar like a-ringing a bell – the line in “Johnny B. Goode”, “he could play guitar just like a-ringing a bell”
I’d rather drive a truck – Elvis Presley worked for a time as a truck driver, having famously been told after several failed auditions to “stick to truck driving because you’re never going to make it as a singer”

The song peaked at #6 in the Billboard 100 and #44 in the Country Charts.

Ricky Nelson had 44 songs in the top 100, 2 number 1’s and 14 top ten hits. This song was Ricky’s last top 40 hit.

“Garden Party”
I went to a garden party
To reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories
And play our songs again
When I got to the garden party
They all knew my name
No one recognized me
I didn’t look the same

But it’s all right now
I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone
So ya got to please yourself

People came from miles around
Everyone was there
Yoko brought her walrus
There was magic in the air
‘N’ over in the corner
Much to my surprise
Mr Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes
Wearing his disguise

But it’s all right now
I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone
So ya got to please yourself

Lott-in-dah-dah
lot-in-dah-dah-dah

Played them all the old songs
Thought that’s why they came
No one heard the music
We didn’t look the same
I said hello to “Mary Lou”
She belongs to me
When I sang a song about a honky-tonk
It was time to leave

But it’s all right now
I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone
So ya got to please yourself

Lot-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)
Lot-in-dah-dah-dah

Someone opened up a closet door
And out stepped Johnny B Goode
Playing guitar
Like a-ringin’ a bell
And lookin’ like he should
If you gotta play at garden parties
I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang
I rather drive a truck

But it’s all right now
I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone
So ya got to please yourself

Lot-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)
Lot-in-dah-dah-dah

‘N’ it’s all right now
Learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone
So you got to please yourself

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

43 thoughts on “Ricky Nelson – Garden Party”

  1. I remember that song, always liked it. I had no idea the story behind it though, that’s cool to find out. (When it was out, I had no idea at all and just assumed it was about a literal picnic, hearing it a few years ago on an old Casey Kasem show I got the references to Yoko and John but still didn’t know what inspired it all).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He did write a catchy song out of it but what a terrible experience.
      The George Harrison reference I just found out…I thought he was talking about Dylan but I found out it was George.

      Like

  2. He was making a comeback at only 32 years old… i think his earlier career has been kind of overlooked- he was pretty good and surrounded himself with great musicians- including guitarist- James Burton.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was going to say…he was really good but his looks and being on a weekly TV show may have hit his credibility… I love Lonesome Town and a lot of the old classic songs he did.
      I had no clue that reference was to George.

      Like

      1. He did…and that tells you a lot about him. He liked to play music and hang out with musicians…more than the others it seems…Ringo’s hanging out wasn’t all about playing music.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I mentioned it a week or so ago- how impressed I was in that Marty Scorsese doc- about how they all talked about George and how great a friend he was and how much they missed him. He liked musicians and race car drivers… got to think Barbara Bach may have saved Ringo’s life- he was hanging around the wrong kind of musicians! Hanging around with the likes of Keith Moon Harry Nilsson not good for long term survival.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That says so much about George.
        Did you read the Ringo bio by Michael Starr? No relation btw….
        He sunk pretty low even in the 80s and yes she helped him because they both were out of it for while…they both recovered and leaned on each other

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I haven’t read the book- is it good? He is coming to Pittsburgh soon- cheapest ticket available is over $100. Sorry Ringo. … by far the longest Beatles marriage Ringo and Barbara.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I found out about things I didn’t know about him. It talked about how John and Cynthia would visit a lot during the Beatles years…and also the drunk jet setting years with Harry.
        Ringo is not exactly fan friendly…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I saw Ringo in the early 90’s with the All-Star Band- it was a good band and all but I don’t think Ringo sang many songs- he’d sing a few then leave the stage and let the others play then come back and sing a few more. He sang the famous Ringo songs. No way would I pay that much- for a few songs. .. Will have to pick that book up the next time I come across it!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Bailey and I saw him in 2012 I believe. It hasn’t changed at all. The bright spot was it was Ringo’s birthday and Joe Walsh came out and played a song…it was at the Ryman.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Steve Lukather, Gregg Rollie and Colin Hay… Todd must have left… Same lineup I saw except Rundgren in place of Colin…
        I agree the tickets have gotten crazy.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I think Todd is touring by himself now- or was… I paid 75 for the Dylan concert in a couple months but it’s Bob and I know he will be on stage the whole time! Yes the ticket prices are insane. I saw yesterday Glenn Beck was coming to PIttsburgh- and they had tickets for over 400 dollars- to hear a guy talk. crazy times.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. My first ticket was 12.50 … It’s gone insane. Dylan seems to keep his concerts at a reasonable price usually. I think we paid around 60 to see him a couple of years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Jake Bugg was very affordable… I agree…

        These older groups that has made so much money from their fans…should at least think…hey lets keep it reasonable. I know they have to make money…I get that but try to keep it where yours fans can see you.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I think I have gone to my last stadium show- to pay big prices and be a million miles away and the sound usually isn’t all that great. no thanks… It was interesting in the Mark book- John rarely going to concerts when even a Buddy Holly was in town- saying he was always a ‘record man’ not interested in seeing the acts in concert.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. I’ve been to only four stadium shows in the 50 + concerts I’ve went to…Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones twice and U2…and yes it’s usually a bad sounding show.
        Going to the Ryman…I will pay a bigger price…because it will sound great no matter who…saw Bruce, Bob, Van, Elvis and Ringo there

        Liked by 1 person

      14. I saw U2 twice last summer- Pittsburgh and Cleveland and after the Cleveland show I thought- never again, never again with the stadiums. With some of those acts- its the stadium or not at all..

        Liked by 1 person

      15. I had to travel to Birmingham to see U2 and Church Hill Downs to see the Stones…saw Pink Floyd (which I’m not the greatest fan) and the Stones in the Vanderbilt Football Stadium.
        In Nashville before the Titans there wasn’t a stadium except Vanderbilt and they didn’t let big rock acts in until the Stones. Giant tours in the 80s rarely came here.
        I traveled to Atlanta to see The Who in 89…but saw them at an Amphitheater.
        Like you wanted to hear this lol

        Liked by 1 person

      16. The best stadium concert I think was The Who and then U2 at 3 Rivers Stadium. Never saw Pink Floyd- just not much of a fan…. you think there is any hopes of Nashville getting a baseball team? I know they are talking expansion- I figure Montreal will get a team.. I see Nashville mentioned -but there are many cities in the mix. Of course you need someone to actually have the money and want to own the team.

        Liked by 1 person

      17. The reason I bring it up…I know they always talk about Las Vegas…the money is there for sure but you have a good point. I never checked on the population.

        Nashville’s stadium for the Sounds was built to be expanded or so I read. Nashville just got approved for a MLS stadium…My wife told me MLB at first and I was like What? Then I saw it.

        Liked by 1 person

      18. I just looked Vegas is 31st in population for cities- and not much surrounding area.. It is one city in front of Albuquerque. I think MLB really needs to think this thing over… Montreal will need to get a new ballpark- maybe they can play in Olympic Stadium while they are building a park but it won’t work if they are playing in that dump.

        Liked by 1 person

      19. If the strike doesn’t happen in 94 do they still have the team? Bad ownership didnt help.

        On Las Vegas I was just going by what a lot of MLB execs say…they always have loved that area. I would love to have a Nashville team…

        I had my hopes up about working for the Marlins. The owner of the company I work for was the other ownership group trying to buy them. He asked me if I would move there….I said to work for a MLB club? yes… They came close…

        Liked by 1 person

      20. Yes… He was in the running until the end.
        .I never had a want to move to Miami but that would be a dream for me to work for a MLB team. My wife and son was on board…we love our house but that would have been once in a life time deal…

        Liked by 1 person

      21. I know…we were thinking of renting our house out just so we could keep it…I’m posting about searching for our house tomorrow…it took us forever to find it.

        I love the area I’m in and didn’t want to…who knows I might have refused when it came time but wow…you can understand…that would be something to be involved with a team.

        Liked by 1 person

      22. I know…I think of one thing…no beaches or sunshine…no I think of Scarface lol.

        Off topic… Bill Daily died…I was just watching interviews with him a few days ago. He was 91 which surprised me.

        Liked by 1 person

      23. I saw that I had forgotten all about him- I thought he had probably already passed. Jeannie and Bob Newhart. …. My wife had to go to Miami for training a few years ago-said the beach was filthy and she really didn’t like the place. I have never been to south Florida.

        Liked by 1 person

      24. When I was a child my Mom, step dad and sister traveled completely down the Atlantic side all the way to Key West and came back up on the gulf side…a lot of fun….in the 70s though
        I’ve read where the crime is bad down there…It worked out for the best

        I’ve been on a Bob Newhart Show Kick and was looking up interviews. He played the same character in both Jeannie and TBNS…he described his character as a person with “3 hour jet lag”…

        Liked by 1 person

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