The Statler Brothers, “Flowers on the Wall”

by

August 12, 2008

Flowers on the Wall
The Statler Brothers
1965

Written by Lew DeWitt

Recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductees The Statler Brothers first polished their musical stylings singing gospel music, and Johnny Cash was so impressed with the group’s work at a 1963 show in Ohio that he invited them to join his tour. Two years later, they enjoyed their most famous success with “Flowers on the Wall”, the story of a man’s loss of romance and reality, and a perfect example of the quartet‘s ability to mix music with (dark) comedy.

Penned by founding member Lew Dewitt, “Flowers on the Wall” is full of desperate isolation as the abandoned narrator tells his former flame not to worry about him in the wake of her goodbye. The sarcasm reaches high level in the chorus, as he pretends that “counting flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all” while playing solitaire with a short deck and watching Captain Kangaroo. As he declares, “Now don’t tell me I’ve nothin’ to do”, his lost love must be sensing him slip. And as the song continues, he descends farther down into his own world, almost begging her to believe that “he’s havin’ quite a time” in the solitude of his room. His boredom borders on pathetic, but he still manages to maintain pride with a little wit and a lot of dishonesty.

The quirky cut connected with the country audience, reaching #2 in January 1966 and becoming the title track to the group’s first album, issued on Columbia Records later that year. The performance also won the quartet their first of three Grammy awards. They would continue to record and tour for over 30 years, even after the death of Dewitt in 1990, and also hosted their own highly-rated show on The Nashville Network in the 1980s.

“Flowers on the Wall” has become a popular culture magnet, gaining fame when Kurt Vonnegut dissected the lyric in his novel Palm Sunday and when Quentin Tarantino used the song in the movie Pulp Fiction. It has also received countless covers from artists such as Pat Boone and Nancy Sinatra, and country artist Eric Heatherly rode his remake to the Top Ten in 2000. But still, the Statler Brothers’ original remains the defining version.

“Flowers on the Wall” is the latest in a series of articles showcasing Classic Country Singles. You can read previous entries at the Classic Country Singles page.

Be Sociable, Share!

6 Comments

Category: Classic Country Singles
Tags:

6 Comments so far

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

  1. JakeNo Gravatar says:

    Wow, I’m glad you guys did this one. I can still remember that my Dad had always liked this song whenever it came on, and while I found it a bit creepy when I was little it’s defiantly a classic.

    I also love how the lyrics have that sarcasm in them, showing that while the person is going downhill, he still’s going down in style, so to speak.

  2. TomNo Gravatar says:

    whenever the rather fruitless discussion about country being more pop than country comes up, this song springs to mind.

    am i the only one who can hear the beatles in that one?

  3. It’s amazing that this most staid of country acts started out with this song. It’s like they got all their ya-yas out and promptly settled down.

    I love this song. It came in at #2 on my Fifty Favorite Debut Singles list. But even though it’s not like anything else they’ve done, I have a fondness for many of their later songs as well, particularly “Class of 57″ and “Bed of Rose’s.” They also sing those classic country gospel songs better than anyone.

  4. JarheadDadNo Gravatar says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s8nRL2bPCU

    Love that song! Better watch it quick though, YouTube keeps pulling this performance from Porter Wagonner’s show.

    Funny how a Gospel group came out with such a satirical sarcastic debut single. Heh! They were singing the Gospel circyuit the same time my uncles and cousins were. Funny how some go one direction while others head another course.

  5. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    I long have been a fan of the Statler Brothers, starting with this record, although my interest in the group faded a bit after the great Lew DeWitt left the group. What made the Statler Brothers unique among vocal groups was DeWitt’s high piercing tenor which added a certain something to classics such as “I’ll Go To My Grave Loving You”

    I really don’t hear a Beatles influence in this song – in fact I would suspect Brother Dave Gardner or Roger Miller as being among the influences. Regardless of influences, this song is unique – it simply does not remind me of any other song

  6. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Paul, I tend to agree that this song is unique, which is the beauty of it. It really doesn’t remind me of anything else. I love it when a group actually sounds like a vocal group like the Statler Brothers do.

Leave a Comment




This site is using OpenAvatar based on

Writers

Latest Comments

Most Popular

Worth Reading

View Older Posts