Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Nine songs about flowers

Last Saturday, after the midsummer session in the afternoon, there came a new episode of Gessles nio i topp on Swedish Radio and this time Per Gessle put together a bouquet of the most colorful songs about flowers.

Per’s Top 9 songs about flowers

9. The Move – Flowers In The Rain
8. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Feat. Kylie Minogue – Where the Wild Roses Grow
7. The Damned – New Rose
6. Geraint Watkins – Only A Rose
5. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Magnolia
4. Air – Cherry Blossom Girl
3. The Rolling Stones – Dead Flowers
2. George Jones – A Good Year For The Roses
1. Nick Lowe – The Rose of England

The ninth song on the list is from 1967, when Per was 8 and ran around and sold magazines to earn money for being able to buy singles. Mr. G says it was a fantastic year in pop music history. Sven tells that year was all about sun, love and flowers. Per says one can have flowers in the rain too. Sven adds especially if someone lives in England. Per picks Flowers In The Rain from The Move. Roy Wood was the songwriter in this fantastic band. Later he formed Electric Light Orchestra together with Jeff Lynne. Sven asks Per if he bought any The Move singles. He replies that his brother bought ”I Can Hear The Grass Grow” and that was their single before ”Flowers In The Rain”. The latter one Per heard on the radio and recorded it on tape from there. Sven mentions that Scott McKenzie’s ”San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)” was also a candidate for this flower list, but The Move kicked them out. ”Flowers In The Rain” was produced by Denny Cordell who also produced Tom Petty’s first album and Tony Visconti, David Bowie’s producer was the assistant producer of the song. Sven and Per discovered that all royalties from the sale of the record went to the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson’s charity foundation after The Move promoted their single with some kind of postcard on which there was a caricature of the naked Prime Minister and his naked secretary. Today it’s still that foundation that gets the royalty money. Per thinks The Move sound typical of their time and Roy Wood was fantastic. Fun fact is that this song was the first record to be played on BBC Radio 1 when the station was launched.

Sven tells now there is a murder song. Per picked Where The Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Feat. Kylie Minogue. Mr. G says it’s still Nick Cave’s biggest hit. It was inspired by an old folk song, ”Down In The Willow Garden”, a murder ballad. The song has an awesome video that was inspired by a murder painting from the 1800s. The song was all over the place in the ’90s. Sven and Per say they were never much into Nick Cave’s stuff, but Per tells he saw a documentary about him and he thinks he is a very special artist. Sven gave it a try and listened to the album, ”Murder Ballads”. He says the first song is more than 6 minutes long and it’s quite a dark one, however, the title of it is ”Song Of Joy”. Per thinks ”Where The Wild Roses Grow” is really catchy and kind of a commercial pop song, but there aren’t any other songs like this in Nick Cave’s catalogue. Sven warns Per he will get some protest letters from Nick’s fans. Sven tells Nick sent a real monotonous demo of the song and when Kylie’s manager heard it, he wasn’t impressed, but Kylie thought it was damn good. It was very different vs. anything she had done before in her career.

The next song is from 1976, the punk and new wave era. Per’s choice is New Rose from The Damned. Per was buying only singles and the only LP he bought was The Damned’s first album, produced by Nick Lowe who worked together with a lot of Stiff Records artists. Sven remembers that Stiff Records’ first single was Nick Lowe’s solo debut single, ”So It Goes”. He also says that Stiff Records had some great images with slogans, e.g. ”Electrically recorded”. Before the guys play ”New Rose”, they mention that the intro, ”Is she really going out with him?” is a parody of a Shangri-Las song ”Leader Of The Pack”.

After ”New Rose”, Sven and Per talks about how this album [Damned Damned Damned] affected Gyllene Tider. Per says everyone in the band liked the album cover very much, with the guys with cream on their faces. They were checking all Stiff Records and F-Beat Records albums. That was a nice time to start a band. You didn’t necessarily had to be good, it was OK if you sounded bad. It was enough if everyone could play the same song at the same time in a band. Haha. Per wishes everyone could experience playing in a band. It’s very different to sitting in front of the computer. Playing instruments together is just awesome.

The next song is Only A Rose from Geraint Watkins. Per says he had this one on his playlist since long. He doesn’t know anything about the artist, but he loves the song. If you google Geraint Watkins it turns out that he is from Wales and he worked together with Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler and Paul McCartney among others. He plays the piano and the accordion and he is singing wonderfully. Per thinks ”Only A Rose” is a masterpiece from 2004. One can never get tired of it. Sven says even Nick Lowe loves Geraint Watkins and his name pops up on other artists’ albums. Sven never heard this song before, but he thinks it’s a nice one.

Per picked Magnolia from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as the next song. He says it’s from Tom Petty’s probably least successful album, ”You’re Gonna Get It!” (1978). Per mentions the album is less than 30 minutes long. Sven says the Ramones’ first album was 29 minutes long and Per tells The Hives’ first album was also under 30 minutes. Mr. G thinks there are many good songs on ”You’re Gonna Get It!”, one can feel the creativity on the album. The last track on it is ”Baby’s A Rock ‘n’ Roller”, which is one of Per’s favourite Tom Petty songs. But it’s not about flowers, so he had to pick another one for this list. Sven jokes and asks if ”I Need To Know” from the same album isn’t about flowers. Per laughs and says they did a cover of that song with Gyllene Tider (”Vill ha ett svar”). Per talks about a YouTube video where Tom mentions that the strangest cover of any of his songs is a Swedish cover of ”I Need To Know”. The guys start talking about ”Magnolia” and Per says Tom was an adorable singer. As a Swede, when you are listening to the old classic albums of The Rolling Stones or Tom Petty, you don’t really hear what they are singing, but there is a kind of expression in their voices. Mick Jagger has it too. And Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin. Tom Petty was a big fan of Roger McGuinn from The Byrds. He originally wrote ”Magnolia” for Roger, but he didn’t record it, so that’s how it ended up on Tom Petty’s album instead. Sven tells it was the same with ”Keeping Me Alive”. Tom Petty wrote it for the Everly Brothers, but they didn’t like it. The Williams Brothers released it first, but then it also ended up on a Tom Petty album. Per says them guys in Gyllene Tider loved Tom Petty and in 1978 when MP and Per started writing songs, this album, ”You’re Gonna Get It!” was really important.

The next song choice is Cherry Blossom Girl from Air, which is a French duo and they broke through in the end of the ’90s with their ”Moon Safari” album. There was a big hit on it, ”Sexy Boy”. Then they did a soundtrack for Sofia Coppola’s ”The Virgin Suicides”. ”Cherry Blossom Girl” is from their 2004 ”Talkie Walkie” album and it’s an airy, dreamy, hypnotic song.

Dead Flowers from The Rolling Stones is next. Sven says it’s a bit morbid from Per, first Nick Cave’s murder ballad, now dead flowers. Per says flowers can be happy and sad too. Mr. G thinks the best Rolling Stones album is ”Sticky Fingers” from 1971. There are a lot of good songs on it and the album sleeve is cool too. Per says many like ”Exile on Main St.” (1972) more, but he never understood that. Sven thinks there are many super cool songs on ”Exile on Main St.”, but he also thinks ”Sticky Fingers” is a more effective album. Per says if you didn’t listen to the ’60s-’70s albums when they came out, it’s more difficult to enter that world now. He had all the big albums except for ”Exile on Main St.” and he listened to it as an adult and it was difficult to find its place and like it. Sven says there was a band called Love and everyone liked them which he couldn’t understand. Per says he never liked them, but it’s the same with their albums, he didn’t listen to them when they were released, just later. Sven comes up with the idea that maybe in the future they could do an episode of Top9 love songs, then Per jokes that there could also be an episode with Top9 artists they don’t have a relation to. Back to ”Dead Flowers”, Sven tells it’s a country rock song. Per adds that there is a country touch that goes through the whole album. After they play the song, Sven mentions that Townes Van Zandt made a fantastic cover of it and that version was used in the film ”The Big Lebowski”. The movie is both Sven and Per’s favourite. Per thinks it’s a milestone in film history. Sven tells the story that Allen Klein, the Rolling Stones’ former manager owned the rights to the song and asked 150,000 USD for it to be used in the movie. Producer T-Bone Burnett invited Klein to watch an early cut of the film. There is a part where the Dude is sitting in a taxi and the radio plays ”Peaceful Easy Feeling” from the Eagles. The Dude asks the driver to change the channel which he refuses to do and the Dude says ”I hate the fuckin’ Eagles, man”. Klein thought that was beautiful and gave the song for free in the end.

One of the absolute best songs Per knows is at No. 2 on the list. It’s A Good Year For The Roses from George Jones. Per realizes there are a lot of rose songs. Mr. G says no one sings about dandelions [maskros in Swedish], however, he has tussilago [coltsfoot] in ”Småstadsprat”. Sven says tulips are not song-friendly and Per agrees. He says there is a romantic touch with roses. Both in positive and negative sense. Per mentions the song ”Pictures Of Lily” [from The Who], however, it’s not about lillies. They laugh. Back to ”A Good Year For The Roses”, the guys say it’s a song that can make a grown man cry. Per says Elvis Costello did a cover of it, but the original version by George Jones is fantastic. The song was written by Jerry Chesnut.

No. 1 on the flower songs list is Nick Lowe’s The Rose of England. Per says Nick Lowe is Nick Lowe and thinks it’s a magnificent song, one of Nick’s best. Sven says it’s from Nick Lowe’s forgotten period. According to Per, his album in the mid ’80s was boring. His band Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit didn’t really work out. Sven adds Nick left the new wave and he was on the way towards his old man period. Per thinks ”Shelley My Love” from the ’90s is a fantastic song, but also ”The Rose of England” is real Nick Lowe pop for Mr. G. ”American Squirm” is also wonderful English pop. When Per listened to ”The Rose of England” the other day he thought it’s like his style in songwriting. It’s so good. They start laughing and Per explains he recognizes his songwriting style in there. The many chord changes in the verses and that everything is built on the fantastic melody. It’s classic Nick Lowe pop. Like ”Heart Of The City” or ”Cracking Up”. According to Sven there is an obviousness, similar to Paul McCartney. Kind of a trade mark. Per thinks the same and he says when you hear these songs you think shit, you already heard that one. They play ”The Rose of England” from 1985 then as the last song in this episode.