Backstory: Kenny Rogers’ “Buy Me a Rose”

By on September 1, 2023

Kenny Rogers was one of the most successful country artists of all time, with dozens of hits and awards throughout his career. But did you know that he also made history with his song “Buy Me a Rose” in 2000? Here’s the story behind this touching ballad that became his last number one hit.

File Photo: Kenny Rogers performs in Anderson, Indiana in 2016. Used with permission. (Photo Credit: Onstage Media Group/ Larry Philpot)

The Songwriters

“Buy Me a Rose” was written by Jim Funk and Erik Hickenlooper, two songwriters who were not well-known in the country music industry. They had met at a songwriter’s workshop in Nashville and decided to collaborate on some songs. One day, they were driving around town and saw a sign that said “Buy Me a Rose”. They thought it was a catchy title and decided to write a song based on it.

They came up with the idea of a husband who works hard to give his wife everything he thinks she wants, but neglects the simple gestures that show her he loves her. They wanted to convey the message that material things are not as important as emotional connection and appreciation. They also added a twist at the end, where the husband realizes his mistake and buys her a rose on his way home from work.

The Recording

Funk and Hickenlooper pitched their song to several artists, but none of them showed interest. They eventually sent a demo tape to Kenny Rogers, who was looking for new material for his album “She Rides Wild Horses”. Rogers liked the song and decided to record it. He also invited two of his friends, Alison Krauss and Billy Dean, to sing background vocals on the track.

Rogers released “Buy Me a Rose” as the third single from his album in October 1999. The song received positive reviews from critics and fans, who praised its heartfelt lyrics and Rogers’ emotional delivery. The song also resonated with many listeners who could relate to its message.

The Success

“Buy Me a Rose” slowly climbed up the charts, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) chart in May 2000. It was Rogers’ first number one hit since 1987’s “Make No Mistake, She’s Mine”, a duet with Ronnie Milsap. It was also his 21st and final number one hit on the country chart.

The song also made history by making Rogers (who was 61 years old at the time) the oldest country singer to have a number one hit. He held this record for three years until it was broken by Willie Nelson, who was 70 years old when he topped the chart with Toby Keith on “Beer for My Horses” in 2003.

“Buy Me a Rose” was also the only number one hit for both Krauss and Dean, who received chart credit for their backing vocals. It was also Rogers’ only number one hit for his personal label, Dreamcatcher Records.

The song also crossed over to other genres, reaching number 13 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart in 2004 for Luther Vandross, who covered it on his album “Dance with My Father”.

The Legacy

“Buy Me a Rose” is considered one of Rogers’ signature songs and one of his most personal ones. He said in an interview that he related to the song because he had been through two divorces and knew what it was like to neglect his partners. He also said that he learned from his mistakes and tried to be more attentive and romantic with his third wife, Wanda.

The song has been covered by other artists, such as Martina McBride, Lionel Richie, Kenny Lattimore, and Kirk Whalum. It has also been featured in several movies and TV shows, such as “The Notebook”, “The Office”, and “Family Guy”.

“Buy Me a Rose” is a timeless song that reminds us of the importance of showing our love to our partners in simple but meaningful ways. It is a song that celebrates love, forgiveness, and redemption.


: Buy Me a Rose – Wikipedia
: Kenny Rogers – Buy Me a Rose Lyrics | Genius Lyrics
: Kenny Rogers, Alison Krauss, and Billy Dean Recorded \”Buy Me A Rose\”

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