Airdate – Mar 12, 2023
Prior to joining Jefferson Airplane in 1966, singer/guitarist Grace Slick fronted a San Francisco Bay Area group known as the Great Society.
One of Slick’s favorite recordings, that she often performed, was a song that went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September of 1963. Its haunting, hypnotic rhythm was a precursor to what was to become the San Francisco Sound …
Even though this timeless wonder of a song initially broke in the San Francisco market, it was recorded by a girl group from the Bronx in New York City.
The group was backed by numerous artists on the recording – a recording that would end up costing over $60,000 to make – an unheard of number and crippling amount of money for the early 60s. Adding to this expense was the fact the group would become a one-hit wonder.
What has added to the song’s legacy and impact are the various interpretations about what the song was about. Bordering on psychedelic, the lyrics of the song, delivered by voices seductively rising and falling, seem to portray a girl roaming in a field of roses and coming upon her lover with another.
Author Wayne Jancik in his book ‘The Billboard Book Of One-Hit Wonders,’ claims:
“Some listeners read the roses and the hushed throbbing of the music as an expression of a young woman’s troubled acceptance of homosexuality. Others think that the song is about a religious experience, or possibly a mental breakdown. Still others remember [the girl’s name in the song] as nothing more than [a reference to] a silly nursey rhyme.”
The group who was credited with singing this song had its origins back in the mid-50s and became one of the earliest girl-groups to make the US R&B Top 10. They did this in 1955 with a song called “Lonely Nights,” performing it as the Hearts.
This success led them to sign with J&S, a label dedicated to what became known as the Doo Wop sound. In tandem with this was a name change to the Jaynetts, a name conceived by adding the “J” in “J&S” to “Anetta,” the middle name of Lezli Valentine, a session vocalist who sang on the group’s 1957 debut, “I Wanted To Be Free,” as well as on other J&S releases.
The arranger of this song was Artie Butler who states in a 1971 Billboard article that his arrangement credit on this hit record earned him $3. He probably would have been farther ahead if he had stuck with the Jaynetts and watched “Sally, Go ‘Round The Roses,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song:
This “Moments In Time” story is yet another example of a “golden oldie” or forgotten favorite that earned its place in the evolution of Rock & Roll.