Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Roses For Mama

Back in the mid 70's there was a songwriter known for being an activist and politician famed for his truck-themed outlaw country songs. While most of the songs tended to be humorous or amusing, even somewhat novelty, some also had serious commentary rooted in environment conservation and protection issues of their day. Historic western U.S. places or events were another frequent subject, while some others were written to reflect patriotic themes or as commentary on the political climate of the era & times during which they were released in.

This songwriter was known as C.W. McCall.  His real name is William Dale Fries, Jr. He is currently 86 years old. In 1986 he was elected mayor of Ouray, Colorado, where he served six years.

One of his better known songs was Convoy. That song was a #1 hit in 1976. I recall being a big fan of the song when it came out. I remember saving up babysitting money so I could buy the album (vinyl, of course!) I eventually saved enough money and bought that album, and listened to it constantly.

There was one song on that album that would always make me cry. Even at my very young age (I was in my very early teens). I loved that song so much.

"Roses for Mama" differed from his usual novelty-style tales. Instead, this song focuses on a traveller's kind-hearted actions toward a motherless boy.

The narrator is travelling to Florida to vacation with an old friend when he makes a stop in a small town Georgia. During the stop, he calls his mother in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, to wish her a happy birthday and plans to wire her some roses. At the flower shop, he runs into a teary-eyed 5-year-old boy. The boy is upset because he cannot afford to purchase roses for his mother, whom he says he hasn't seen in almost a year.

The boy tells his story about living with his grandmother and that he had promised to purchase five roses to celebrate his mother's birthday, but had only a dime to spend. The story touches the narrator's heart, and he agrees to fund the boy's purchase. The boy buys his bouquet and disappears from the shop, but then rushes back to thank the generous stranger.

Later, as the narrator is driving out of town, he sees the boy at the old cemetery, kneeling by what turns out to be his mother's grave. After the boy explains that "this is where my mother stays," the narrator decides that he is taking his own mother for granted and decides to take his rose bouquet to give to her in person.

The song still brings tears to my eyes.

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