Written by Amanda McBroom
Radio & Records
#1 (2 weeks)
February 25 – March 4, 1983
#1 (1 week)
March 12, 1983
A few years before Bette Midler took a country hit to the top of the pop chart, Conway Twitty took a Better Midler pop hit to the top of the country chart.
Twitty was struggling with “The Rose” in the studio until he tried doing the opening two lines in spoken word. It was an inspired moment that elevates the record, and unsurprisingly, Twitty sings the hell out of the rest of it.
It’s a truly great song, too, without an ounce of sappiness. That is so difficult to pull off with a romantic song. Give Conway Twitty a strong romantic lyric and success is inevitable.
This is one of his most nuanced and mature performances. He leans into his deeper register, and you can hear how his voice has begun to age. It lends the performance a gravitas that few of his peers could have delivered.
Again, credit to Jimmy Bowen for understanding how to produce a veteran artist and recontextualize their sound, instead of trying to recreate their records of their youth.
“The Rose” gets an A.
Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties
Previous: Don Williams, “If Hollywood Don’t Need You (Honey I Still Do)” |
Next: Charley Pride, “Why Baby Why”
I really liked Conway Twitty but this song and “Slow Hand” were the two worst of his many hit records. For what it is worth, he sang them very well, but the songs were unworthy of his great talent, particularly this maudlin number (I do like Bette Midler but regarded her version of this song as about the worst of her hits)
Conway was actually at number one for two weeks with “The Rose” in Radio & Records on 2/25 and 3/4. Most critics do hate this number, and regard it as a “flop”. But in all reality it became was of his signature songs. He performed it in every concert until the day he died. Ladies loved it.
Thanks for the correction. I fixed the post!
I’m so blissfully unaware of what the critical consensus of most of these eighties records was. My mom’s a big Conway fan, so I’m pretty sure I heard this for the first time when she bought his box set in the nineties.
I love this version of the song, and I love Bette’s as well and I like Westlife’s cover, also. Each artist brings something special to the song in my view and Conway’s is definitely a classic.
I’m also fond of Wynonna’s versions: With Bette in the 90s and with Brandi Carlile more recently.