Rolling Stones – Dead Flowers

When I saw the Stones on the 2006 Bigger Bang tour I was looking forward to this song than any other. It was the second time I had gone to see them. This time it was in Kentucky at the famous Churchill Downs venue that is not meant for Rock and Roll but it was cool.

The lyric “Making bets on Kentucky Derby Day” drew a huge response from the rain-drenched crowd. The song was on the great Sticky Fingers album released in 1971. Gram Parsons who was into country music heavily and hanging around with the Stones probably influence this track to a point.

This song rolled during the final credits of The Big Lebowski. Allen Klein, the ex  Rolling Stones manager and owner of the song initially wanted $150,000 for the movie’s use of it. He was then convinced to let them use it for free when he saw the scene in which The Dude says, “I hate the f—in’ Eagles, man!”. The version in the movie was a Townes Van Zandt cover.

From Songfacts

In this song, Mick Jagger addresses a girl named Susie with more than a little disdain: She’s welcome to send him dead flowers, but he’ll put roses on her grave. The music and lyrics both have a distinct country vibe. Jagger explained in 1995: “I love country music, but I find it very hard to take it seriously. I also think a lot of country music is sung with the tongue in cheek, so I do it tongue-in-cheek. The harmonic thing is very different from the blues. It doesn’t bend notes in the same way, so I suppose it’s very English, really. Even though it’s been very Americanized, it feels very close to me, to my roots, so to speak.”

Mick Jagger, 2003: “The ‘Country’ songs we recorded later, like ‘Dead Flowers’ on Sticky Fingers or Far Away Eyes on Some Girls, are slightly different (than our earlier ones). The actual music is played completely straight, but it’s me who’s not going legit with the whole thing, because I think I’m a blues singer not a country singer – I think it’s more suited to Keith’s voice than mine.” >>

The line, “I’ll be in my basement room with a needle and a spoon” is probably a reference to shooting up heroin. 

Dead Flowers

Well when you’re sitting there in your silk upholstered chair
Talkin’ to some rich folk that you know
Well I hope you won’t see me in my ragged company
Well, you know I could never be alone

Take me down little Susie, take me down
I know you think you’re the queen of the underground
And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the mail
Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave

Well when you’re sitting back in your rose pink Cadillac
Making bets on Kentucky Derby Day
Ah, I’ll be in my basement room with a needle and a spoon
And another girl to take my pain away

Take me down little Susie, take me down
I know you think you’re the queen of the underground
And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the mail
Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave

Take me down little Susie, take me down
I know you think you’re the queen of the underground
And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the U.S. Mail
Say it with dead flowers in my wedding
And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave
No, I won’t forget to put roses on your grave

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “Rolling Stones – Dead Flowers”

  1. The Churchill Downs concert was the Stones’ stop right before they played here in Wichita. It’s so cool that they were able to play at Churchill Downs. Dead Flowers is a really awkward song, imo. I definitely don’t dislike it, but it’s a strange one for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did Alice Cooper open up in Wichita also? It was cold and rainy. It’s a different type of song …Bakersfield country meets a British interpretation.
      I loved being there but I haven’t heard of any more big bands playing there. The sound wasn’t great but the atmosphere was…

      It was cold and rainy but I really enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We had a gorgeous warm evening. It was outdoors on an October night, but we were in short sleeves. It’s a bummer you got cold and rain. We should have been chilly at least. Our opening act was Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I hadn’t heard them before, but they were a good band.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was a bonding experience with fellow fans so it worked out. Many were sharing umbrellas… of course most of us just got wet. My buddy and me had parkas so we were fine.

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      3. Well I went to look them up and yes they do sound good. A good rock and roll sound… and it sounded familiar… I think we talked about them before…I will remember them for now on.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen the Big Lebowsky a bunch of times, but I don’t recall this song perhaps because it was a Towns Van Zandt cover. Weird. That made me laugh about why they gave away the rights free. It seems that the dude’s opinion of the Eagles isn’t that uncommon.

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    1. I agree…I can’t pick a definite favorite off of that album…Sway is one that is not as known that I really like.
      The Black Crowes repurposed that melody for Sister Luck.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Is the first video a recording of the night you were there, Max? I noticed them cheering at Churchill Downs. There is something more than a little melancholy about the lyrics, like the other person has gone on with their life but one remains (hooked on heroin.) I love the song and like learning about the Gram Parsons influence. On another subject we talked about, I saw that movie, “We Need to Talk about Kevin.” My local branch must have had it on the shelf. That movie was off the hook! I’ll write more about it in the weekly movie review next week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it is the night I was there. When I came home the next day someone already had the complete concert bootlegged and posted it… Kinda cool to have that as a keep sake.

      That is great! I didn’t mean to hijack your post but I thought you would find it interesting…I’m looking forward to your thoughts on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t see it in my comments section so thanks for letting me know. That’s so cool, to think of you in that audience while they were playing. (Now it is making me sign in each time I comment on your page. :()

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I also found a Who show I saw in 89 that is on Video on youtube. The Stones concert was cold and rainy but I had a great time with the fans.

        That is weird…I didn’t change anything. Let me go look at my settings to see if anything has changed.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is definitely one my favorite Stones song, from my most favorite Stones album. Yes, the Gram Parsons’ influence is strong on this one.
    On a more personal note: I was a teenager when I first heard this song, on a live, acoustic cover from a Greek rock singer, named Pavlos Sidiropoulos. I didn’t know he was addicted to heroin (years later he ODed from it) and I didn’t know the lyrics at the time. When I got the Stones album and listened more carefully, I understood why this acoustic cover from a country song I hadn’t even heard before that night rung so true and so sad.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. that is a great album…one of many they did during the late sixties and early seventies. They were untouchable for a while.

      I just looked Pavlos Sidiropoulos up…he released a lot of stuff. I liked how he used Greek lyrics while others used English.

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      1. Sidiropoulos was kind of the Father of Greek rock. Apart from being a very charismatic performer and a great lyricist, he was somewhat of a scholar on why and how rock “works” musically and socially. He has recorded some material in English but he took great pains to organically blend rock music with the Greek language, a task which may prove not so easy in less capable hands. I’m glad you noticed that part!

        Sticky Fingers remains my favorite Stones album. Especially Wild Horses, Dead Flowers and the amazing Sister Morphine, they always send shivers down my spine.

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