Talking Rose Blues

Talking Rose Blues*

By Robert B. Martin Jr.

As I was walking down the street,

A pretty little garden I chanced to meet.

It had fancy roses of every size,

Fancy colors to pop your eyes.

There were reds.


Pinks of every shade.

But there wasn’t any blue.

Well I sure wanted to learn some more,

So I went down to the nursery store.

Waved my money in the air;

Give me roses. I declare!

I want oranges.


Even an apricot.

And I want something blue.

Little old lady standing by,

Looked at me and said “Oh my!”

“Son - I’m a rosarian and I’m telling you,

There's no such thing as a rose that's blue.”

There are blends.


Hand-painted roses, splashes and stripes.

But there isn’t any blue.

As I stood there wondering why,

Nursery salesman came wandering by.

Little blue coat, little blue tie.

“Don’t listen to her - I’ll tell you why”.

I've got Blue Nile.

Blue Girl.

Blue Moon, Blue Ribbon and Shocking Blue.

We've got  hundreds of roses of blue.

So I looked them over one by one,

And said to myself “Well Son of a Gun”.

Every rose here calls itself blue,

Is really a rose of a much different hue.

There was violet.


And some God-awful color called “mauve”.

But there wasn’t any blue.

Still I bought some roses to give ‘em a try,

Dug ‘em some holes on the by and by.

Tucked them in and watered them down,

Threw some manure all over the ground.

But they was sticks.


Pathetic bare things.

I was feeling pretty blue.

Well many springs since have come and gone,

And there’s nothing but roses where once was a lawn.

And I’ve come to reject that sad point of view

That there's no such thing as a rose that's blue.

The rainbow of roses reflect 'gainst the sky.

Which is colored I know.

By that rose in God’s garden that truly is blue.


* With affection for Woody Guthrie, Tom Paxton and roses. 

Historical Note:

The talking blues with its delayed climax and its double or triple cracker on the end of the jokes was popularized by the acid social commentary of Woody Guthrie. His most popular version was based on the Po' Mourner set,  a barber shop quartet song in which the leader intones verses against a background of rhythmic chords. It is considered to have been derived from the common device of early African-American preachers and blues singers speaking over a song accompaniment.