About the song

Ah, yes, Elvis Presley and “Mama Liked the Roses” (1970). A fascinating entry in the King’s vast catalog, and one that reveals a surprising depth of tenderness beneath the rock and roll swagger.

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Released in 1970, “Mama Liked the Roses” wasn’t quite what fans were expecting. The bombastic energy of his earlier hits had given way to a more introspective sound. This shift coincided with a return to recording in Memphis at American Sound Studios, a move that reconnected Elvis with the raw, soulful energy of his early days.

The song itself, penned by songwriter Johnny Christopher (who also gave us gems like “If You Talk in Your Sleep” and “Always on My Mind”), is a poignant ballad about loss and the enduring power of memory. The narrator reflects on his deceased mother, her simple pleasures, and the lingering fragrance of roses that brings her back to him.

Now, Elvis wasn’t necessarily known for his ballads in the 1960s. Sure, there were heartbreakers like “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Don’t Cry Daddy,” but “Mama Liked the Roses” feels different. It’s a mature performance, brimming with a quiet vulnerability that resonates deeply.

Some critics, perhaps expecting the electrifying Elvis of the 1950s, found the song overly sentimental. However, for many fans, “Mama Liked the Roses” showcased a new dimension to his artistry. It proved he could be just as captivating with a gentle whisper as he was with a rock and roll roar.

There’s something undeniably touching about the song’s simplicity. The arrangement is sparse, relying on a melancholic piano melody and Elvis’s heartfelt vocals. The lyrics themselves are straightforward, avoiding grand pronouncements of grief in favor of intimate details that paint a vivid picture of the narrator’s mother and the bond they shared.

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“Mama Liked the Roses” wasn’t a chart-topping smash hit, but it did peak at a respectable number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 when paired with the A-side “The Wonder of You.” More importantly, it became a fan favorite, a testament to Elvis’s ability to connect with his audience on a deeply personal level.

So, the next time you revisit the vast landscape of Elvis Presley’s music, don’t overlook “Mama Liked the Roses.” It’s a quiet gem, a song that reveals a softer side of the King and reminds us of the universal power of love and loss.



Oh, mama liked the roses she grew them in the yard
But winter always came around and made the growing way too hard
Oh, mama liked the roses and when she had the time
She’d decorate the living room, for all us kids to see
When i hear the sunday bells ringing in the morning
I remember crying when she used to sing
Oh, mama liked the roses but most of all she cared
About the way we learned to live
And if we said our prayers

You know i kept the family bible
With a rose that she saved inside
It was pressed between the pages
Like it had found a place to hide

Oh, mama liked the roses in such a special way
We bring them every mother’s day
And put them on her grave
Oh, mama liked the roses mmmm
Mama liked the roses