100 Greatest Women, #38: Lynn Anderson

100 Greatest Women: 10th Anniversary Edition


Lynn Anderson

2008 Edition: #32 (-6)

She was the daughter of songwriters Casey and Liz Anderson. Raised in California, she witnessed the West Coast country music scene when it was most vital. But in her early years, she was as likely to perform with a horse as she was with a microphone, winning the California Horse Show Queen title in 1966.

At that time, her mom was scoring some hits on the country charts, so daughter followed mother into the music business. She recorded for the small label Chart, and found success quickly. After scoring hits with “If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away)” and “Promises, Promises,” she was named the then-regional ACM’s Top Female Vocalist in 1968. Her album Promises, Promises went to #1, and in 1969, just missed the top spot with her single “That’s a No No.”

Her success on Chart caught the attention of Columbia Records, who coaxed her away from the smaller label in 1970. But before she left, she recorded “Rocky Top,” which wasn’t a huge chart hit but became one of her signature songs, not to mention an official state song of Tennessee. Only five months later, Anderson became a superstar when she released the mega-hit “Rose Garden.” With its dramatic strings and “I beg your pardon…” hook, the song exploded in both the country and pop markets. It was a gold single and the title track of a platinum album. The song won her a Grammy the following year, and she was named Female Vocalist by both the CMA and the now-national ACM.

The crossover appeal of “Rose Garden” broadened Anderson’s audience, and Anderson became one of the first country artists to become a regular on the Hollywood talk and variety show circuits. Her country hits had an extra coat of pop sheen, and in the early seventies, she was as popular as any female artist had ever been in country music. She had #1 singles with “You’re My Man”, “Keep Me in Mind,” “How Can I Unlove You,” and “What a Man, My Man Is,” and her 1972 hit “Cry” became a country classic, later revived by Crystal Gayle in the eighties.

Anderson stayed with Columbia throughout the seventies and early eighties, adopting a sexier image at the dawn of the me decade. By then her hit run has slowed down, but her enduring popularity made her a top draw on the road. She briefly retired, but was back in 1983 with the appropriately titled album Back. A duet with Gary Morris from the project, “You’re Welcome to Tonight”, became her final top ten hit.

Throughout the eighties and nineties, Anderson focused on her charity work and equestrian interests, recording only sporadically. In 2004, she followed the lead of many veteran artists and recorded a bluegrass album called The Bluegrass Sessions. Her next release, Western Girl, swept the Academy of Western Awards in 2007, where she won Best Female Vocalist, Best Western CD and Best Western Swing CD.

In 2015, Anderson released the final album of her career, a gospel collection called Bridges.  It included a version of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away” with the lyrics rewritten to make it a spiritual number.  The album hit stores just one month before Anderson passed away after a brief battle with pneumonia.

Essential Singles

  • Rocky Top, 1970
  • Rose Garden, 1970
  • You’re My Man, 1971
  • How Can I Unlove You, 1971
  • Cry, 1972
  • Keep Me in Mind, 1973
  • Top of the World, 1973
  • What a Man, My Man Is, 1974

Essential Albums

  • Promises, Promises, 1968
  • Rose Garden, 1970
  • You’re My Man, 1971
  • Cry, 1972
  • Western Girl, 2007

Industry Awards

  • Academy of Country Music Awards
    • Top Female Vocalist, 1968, 1971
  • Country Music Association Awards
    • Female Vocalist, 1971
  • Grammy Awards
    • Best Female Country Vocal Performance
      • Rose Garden, 1971

100 Greatest Women: 10th Anniversary Edition

Next: #37. Jean Shepard

Previous: #39. Lucinda Williams


  1. The only Lynn Anderson song I remember is Rose Garden which was solely written by Joe South. I have it on his 1970 Greatest Hits LP which also included “Games People Play” and “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”. If wiki is correct, it was not a single for South. I prefer listening to Anderson’s version.

  2. Lynn Anderson sounds like somebody I’d like, but alas, I can’t bring myself to buy one of her LPs, and of course all I know of hers is “Rose Garden”. Someday, that’s gotta change…

  3. unfortunately Lynn’s last few years were marred by a series of bizarre incidents which blurred her greatness as a performer

    Amazon has a number of good albums available – I would start with 16 Biggest Hits, currently available for $6.99

  4. Wow, I did not know that Ms. Anderson was no longer with us. Sad to read.

    I remember well her popularity in the 1970s. “Rose Garden” will always be one of country music’s all-time classics.

  5. I always dug Lynn Anderson’s voice. It had a nice tone. Rose Garden is still one of the all time great country tracks.

  6. During the early 70s, I was in love with Lynn Anderson. I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. And she had an amazing voice to match.

    I had about three of her albums and I played them a lot. I absolutely agree with the list of essentials. So sad she’s no longer with us. She was amazing and should be higher on this list IMO.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.