Big Sound Saturdays: No Bed of Roses, Vol. 2 (Mixed Bouquet)

Like the Pluto of the musicsphere, mixes are kinda like micro-histories, and crafting a history begs a staggering breadth of choices. What kind of history can you make with hundreds of songs about the rose?

It’s not that I couldn’t make up my mind with Volume 2 of No Bed of Roses. Back when ACRO featured this mix of Country music’s dismembered body parts, I could’ve culled thirty songs about shoulders alone. But who could actually listen to it? For Volume 2, we branch out (ha, ha!) into the many genres that the rose has attracted, meandering between Outlaw Country heroes Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Billy Joe Shaver, to dulcet 60s song queens Francoise Hardy, Chantal Goya, Joni Mitchell, Lynn Anderson, and Vashti Bunyan, in and through the off-kilter guitar of Earl Blair, the sweet call of Heron (“Yellow Roses,” one of the prettiest songs I know), all the way through Stan Hubbs’ lowdown “Golden Rose,” an echo of Elliott Smith’s organ-laden “Coming Up Roses.”

You won’t get a sense of any certain sound’s deep and movable investment in the flower (like I hope you did with Volume 1) , but you might start to hear a kind of cultural obsession bigger than country music—rose as friend, mother, and lover, rose as longing, illusion, something to both give as thanks and give thanks to but also something to deride or, at the very least, to suspect. In here, “Coming Up Roses” could mean anything.


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