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Country Classics Revisited: The Statler Brothers Make Boredom Fun in 'Flowers on the Wall'

You know you've got one of the best country songs of all time when the Muppets cover you. That's probably not what Lew DeWitt, the original tenor for The Statler Brothers, anticipated when he wrote "Flowers on the Wall." In spite of its offbeat lyrics, it's worth a serious look for any fan of country music. Harry Reid, one of the quartet's founding members, once described his music this way: "We took gospel harmonies and put them over in country music." However, to a modern ear, it's easy to hear that the Statler Brothers had in reality created a rock'n'roll song that was sanitized enough to satisfy Nashville suits and country fans alike.

The song describes, in painfully minute detail, how the singer is filling their time after a devastating breakup. The odd specificity of the narrator's tasked resonated with lots of people. "Flowers on the Wall" reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for four weeks and hit No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1966 it won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Performance-Group (Vocal or Instrumental.)

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The Muppets weren't the only admirers of "Flowers on the Wall." Nancy Sinatra covered "Flowers on the Wall" in her 1966 album Boots. Eric Heatherly gave the song a bluesy feel on his album Swimming in Champagne. Bruce Willis also seems to be an admirer. It makes an appearance in the soundtrack to the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction thanks to Bruce Willis' singing along to the line "smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo." The line was also quoted in another of his flicks: Die Hard With a Vengeance. It was also the theme song of the BBC Radio 4 sitcom Linda Smith's A Brief History of Time Wasting.

Though "Flowers on the Wall" has a wildly divergent set of fans, it's clear they all have one thing in common: moments of heartbreak and wounded pride.

'Flowers on the Wall' Lyrics:

I keep hearin' you're concerned about my happiness
But all that thought you're givin' me is conscience I guess
If I was walkin' in your shoes, I wouldn't worry none
While you 'n' your friends are worried about me I'm havin' lots of fun

Counting flowers on the wall
That don't bother me at all
Playin' solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one
Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo
Now don't tell me I've nothing to do

Last night I dressed in tails, pretended I was on the town
As long as I can dream it's hard to slow this swinger down
So please don't give a thought to me, I'm really doin' fine
You can always find me here, I'm havin' quite a time

Countin' flowers on the wall
That don't bother me at all
Playin' solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo
Now don't tell me I've nothin' to do

It's good to see you, I must go, I know I look a fright
Anyway my eyes are not accustomed to this light
And my shoes are not accustomed to this hard concrete
So I must go back to my room and make my day complete

Countin' flowers on the wall
That don't bother me at all
Playin' solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo
Now don't tell me I've nothin' to do
Don't tell me I've nothin' to do

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Country Classics Revisited: The Statler Brothers Make Boredom Fun in 'Flowers on the Wall'