One of Bette Midler's most enduring and endearing hits, the Amanda McBroom-penned adult contemporary standard "The Rose," first appeared on the original soundtrack for the Midler-starring and Janis Joplin-inspired 1979 film of the same title. The instant payoff earned Midler a Grammy (Best Female Pop Vocal Performance) and a Golden Globe award (Best Original Song). In the long run, the song became a No. 1 country chart-topper in 1983 for another well-rounded entertainer, Conway Twitty.
"The Rose," which has since doubled as an alternate backing track for "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," wasn't exactly an obvious fit for a story based on Joplin's turbulent life. Still, McBroom pitched it for the film at the behest of best friend and fellow songwriter Michele Brourman.
"They thought it was dull and a hymn and NOT rock and roll and totally wrong," McBroom wrote on her website. "They put it in the reject box. But the divine Paul Rothchild, who was the music supervisor on the film, and had been Janis Joplin's producer, hauled it out and asked them to reconsider. They again said no. So he mailed it to Bette. She liked it, and that's how it got into the film and changed my life forever."
McBroom wrote the song as an answer to "Magdalena," a Leo Sayer song with the line "Your love is like a razor/My heart is just a scar."
Twitty tipped his hat to fellow ballad singer Midler by recording "The Rose" and making it the opening track of his 1982 album Dream Maker. It became Twitty's 30th career No. 1 in the United States and a heartstring-tugging change-of-pace whenever he talk-sang the first verse on stage.
"The Rose" Song Lyrics:
Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower
And you, its only seed
It's the heart, afraid of breakin'
That never learns to dance
It's the dream, afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul, afraid of dyin'
That never learns to live
When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring becomes the rose
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