Unveiling the Tale: “Rose in Paradise“
(Composed by Stewart Harris & Jim McBride)
Waylon Jennings (#1, 1987)
In the vibrant year of 1985, Waylon Jennings commemorated his remarkable 20-year journey with RCA Records. Throughout his time with the label, Jennings had etched his name in history with an impressive tally of fourteen number one singles (a fifteenth, “Highwayman,” was released on Columbia). However, it had been a couple of years since his last chart-topping hit, “Lucille (You Won’t Do Your Daddy’s Will).”
Despite the brief hiatus from the top spot, Waylon had managed to charm listeners with six more Top Ten singles, including crowd favorites like “America,” “Drinkin’ and Dreamin’,” and the beautifully crafted “Waltz Me to Heaven,” penned by the talented Dolly Parton. Towards the end of the year, Jennings made the decision to part ways with RCA and signed with MCA, embarking on a new chapter in his musical journey with the release of “Working Without a Net” and “Will the Wolf Survive.”
It was during this exciting transition that Waylon’s path intertwined with the soul-stirring ballad, “Rose in Paradise.” The song would go on to claim the number one spot on April 25, 1987, marking Jennings’ triumphant 16th chart-topper. Although the song appeared on his second MCA album, aptly titled “Hangin’ Tough,” its discovery occurred just after the completion of Waylon’s debut MCA album. The mastermind behind this gem was none other than Don “Dirt” Lanier, an associate of producer Jimmy Bowen.
Lanier introduced the song to Waylon, who couldn’t help but chuckle and remark, “Where were you two weeks ago?” Acknowledging Lanier’s knack for finding incredible songs, Jennings made a deal, saying, “You’ve proven yourself as a remarkable song finder – now let’s see if you can be an incubator. I want you to hold onto ‘Rose in Paradise’ for a year until I’m ready to record again.”
True to his word, Jennings returned to the song a year later. However, he found himself dissatisfied with the demo, deeming it “long and draggy.” Nevertheless, Waylon’s intuition whispered that there was something extraordinary within the melody. He took a bold step and reimagined the arrangement, transforming it into a more captivating and palatable masterpiece. As fate would have it, the tune effortlessly ascended to the number one position on Billboard’s country singles chart on that fateful day, April 25, 1987.
Buoyed by the success of “Rose in Paradise,” Waylon continued to grace the charts with two more Top Ten singles, “Fallin’ Out” and “Rough and Rowdy Days.” The latter emerged from Jennings’ much-touted “autobiography” album, “A Man Called Hoss,” which he promoted through a series of awe-inspiring one-man concerts.
However, life took an unexpected turn for Waylon on December 12, 1988, when he underwent triple bypass heart surgery at Nashville’s Baptist Hospital. Coincidentally, his private room was situated across from Johnny Cash’s, who also underwent heart surgery just one week later.
Following his hospitalization, Jennings promptly bounced back into his musical endeavors, simultaneously venturing into a side business by marketing “Waylon’s West Texas Barbeque Sauce.” While the company relied on the hard work of his cousins, Waylon’s devoted wife, Jessi Colter, assumed the role of vice-president.
Waylon Jennings, an artist whose music tugged at the heartstrings of countless listeners, found solace and inspiration in the immortal lyrics of “Rose in Paradise.” Its undeniable allure propelled him to yet another pinnacle of success, etching his name deeper into the annals of country music history. And with his unwavering spirit, Jennings continued to leave an indelible mark on the world, both through his timeless music and entrepreneurial ventures.
Artist: Waylon Jennings
Album: Hangin’ Tough
She was a flower for the taking
Her beauty cut just like a knife
He was a banker from Macon
He swore he’d love her all a his life
He bought her a mansion on the mountain
With a formal garden and a lot of land
But paradise became her prison
That Georgia banker was a jealous man
Every time he’d talk about her
You could see the fire in his eyes
He’d say, “I would walk through Hell on Sunday
To keep my Rose in Paradise
He hired a man to tend the garden
To keep an eye on her while he was gone
Some say they ran away together
Some say that gardener left alone
Now the banker is an old man
That mansion’s crumbling down
He sits all day and stares at the garden
Not a trace of her was ever found
Every time he talks about her
You can see the fire in his eyes
He says, “I would walk through Hell on Sunday
To keep my Rose in Paradise
Now there’s a rose out in the garden
Its beauty cuts just like a knife
They say that it even grows in the winter time
And blooms in the dead of the night