“The Rose”

“The Rose”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Amanda McBroom
“The Rose”

Written by Amanda McBroom
Recorded by Bette Midler

Long before I had ever recorded anything, I was driving down the freeway one afternoon, sometime in 1977. I was listening to the radio when the song “Magdalena” by Danny O’Keefe, sung by Leo Sayer, came on. I liked it immediately. My favorite line was “Your love is like a razor. My heart is just a scar.”

As I continued to drive down the road, I thought more about it and realized I don’t agree with that sentiment. I don’t think love is like a razor. (I was younger then.) What, then, do I think love is? Suddenly, it was as if someone had opened a window in the top of my head. Words came pouring in. I had to keep reciting them to myself as I drove faster and faster towards home, so I wouldn’t forget them. I screeched into my driveway, ran into the house, past various bewildered dogs and cats and husbands, and sat down at the piano. Ten minutes later, “The Rose” was there.

I called my husband, George, into the room and played it for him, as I always did with my new songs. He listened, and quietly said to me, “You’ve just written a standard.” I protested that no one but my pals would ever hear it and he said, “Mark my words. Something is going to happen with this song.”

A year or so later, a professional songwriter friend of mine said, “Listen, there is this movie coming out called The Rose. They are looking for a title tune. Do you want me to submit this to them?” I had never really tried to submit this song to anyone. I didn’t consider myself a songwriter at the time. So I said, “Sure.”

She submitted the tune to the producers, who HATED it. They thought it was dull and a hymn and NOT rock and roll and totally wrong for this project. 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 (Midler). She liked it, and that’s how it got into the film and changed my life forever.

Originally the film had been called The Pearl, which was Janis Joplin’s nickname. But, lucky for me, her family refused permission to use that name. “Pearl” is MUCH harder to rhyme.

I have never written another song as quickly. I like to think I was the window that happened to be open when those thoughts needed to come through. I am eternally grateful… to Bette… to Paul Rothchild… to Bill Kerby, who wrote the screenplay… to my friend who first submitted it for me… and to the Universe for speaking to me in the first place and for showing me what I truly believe.

“The Rose”

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 breaking

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 dying,

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 snow

Lies the seed

That with the sun’s love, in the spring

Becomes the rose.

Lyrics and Music by Amanda McBroom. © 1976 Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

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