Dead Flowers (The Rolling Stones song)
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|Song by The Rolling Stones|
|from the album Sticky Fingers|
|Released||23 April 1971|
|Label||Rolling Stones Records|
Recording and performance history
Recording of "Dead Flowers" took place in April 1970 at the Olympic Studios in London. The lyrics to the song are notably dark, and feature the line, "I'll be in my basement room, with a needle and a spoon", a reference to injecting heroin.
"Dead Flowers" was written during the period when the Stones were stepping into country territory, when Richards's friendship with Gram Parsons was influencing his songwriting. Jagger commented in 2003:
The 'Country' songs we recorded later, like "Dead Flowers" on Sticky Fingers or "Far Away Eyes" on Some Girls, are slightly different (than our earlier ones). The actual music is played completely straight, but it's me who's not going legit with the whole thing, because I think I'm a blues singer not a country singer – I think it's more suited to Keith's voice than mine.[This quote needs a citation]
Both Richards and Mick Taylor contribute the 'honky-tonk' style lead guitar lines throughout the album version. Richards's choppier fills act primarily as a response to Jagger's vocal lines during the verses, while Taylor's more fluid licks counteract with the vocals of the chorus. It is Taylor who performs the guitar solo in place of a third verse.
"Dead Flowers" was performed live during the album tours for Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street in 1970-72, then once during the Black and Blue Tour in 1976. It was not played again until the Steel Wheels Tour in 1989. Live performances of the song from 1995 can be found on the Stones' album Stripped and its 2016 edition Totally Stripped. The song, with its reference to "making bets on Kentucky Derby Day", was appropriately played during a September 2006 concert at Churchill Downs, site of the Kentucky Derby.
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The song has been widely covered. Townes Van Zandt included a version of the song on his album of live covers Roadsongs; this version was used in the film The Big Lebowski. New Riders of the Purple Sage covered the song on the 1974 live album, Home, Home on the Road, and 1976 album New Riders and as an encore during at least one concert in 1977. Both the New Riders of the Purple Sage and the David Nelson Band regularly play it live to the present day. Gilby Clarke also did a cover of the song featuring Axl Rose, on his first solo album Pawnshop Guitars. Steve Earle often plays the song live and has recorded it several times as a live track. GG Allin covered the song live on his album The Troubled Troubador with The Disappointments. Jerry Lee Lewis released a version of the song on his 2010 album, Mean Old Man, which featured Mick Jagger. Poison also covered the song on their 2007 album Poison'd!, and Six Organs of Admittance have covered the song for their Somewhere Between Her Shoulder and God EP and in numerous live performances. Guns N' Roses also performed the song since 1993, notably at the 2012 London O2 Arena concert, where their former member Izzy Stradlin joined the band on stage to play the song. A version may also be found on Willie Nelson & Friends – Stars & Guitars, a 2002 live album.