Whether we’re gazing at a field of wildflowers or receiving a bouquet from a loved one, flowers have a way of lifting our spirits and making us feel loved and inspired. They are simply beautiful it makes us catch our breath.
And we’re not the only ones. Artists, poets, and musicians have been using flowers as inspiration for centuries!
Today, we’ll take a look at some of these masterpieces. We put together a list of 13 of the best songs about flowers for you. Let’s get started.
1. “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” By Pete Seeger
This list starts with Pete Seeger‘s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” It’s a ballad about love, death, and how “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” This is perhaps one of the most moving songs written about flowers.
Seeger wrote it in 1955, inspired by a Cossack folk song and an Irish melody. It quickly became one of the great anthems for peace of Seeger’s generation.
The lyrics talk about girls picking flowers and men picking girls. Then the girls pick flowers once again to lay on the men’s graves. It’s haunting, mournful, and a reminder to take nothing for granted.
2. “Le Fleur Que Tu M’Avais Jeté” By Roberto Alagna
If you’re up for a sad song, here’s Roberto Alagna‘s “Le Fleur Que Tu M’Avais Jeté.” This appeared in French composer Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen. The eponymous heroine throws flowers casually at any number of suitors.
This song is about one flower in particular. Early in the opera, Carmen throws the enamored Don José a rose, so he will help her get out of prison. He does, and it gets him into trouble.
By the time José sings this famous aria, Carmen has left him for someone else. All he has to remember her by is the flower she threw at his feet.
3. “Honeysuckle Rose” By Fats Waller
Unlike other songs on this list, “Honeysuckle Rose” is as much about love as it is about the titular flowers. While it’s not your typical song about flowers, it’s worth a listen.
Fats Waller‘s “Honeysuckle Rose” began as a dance number for the jazz clubs where he enjoyed playing. And it does its job. The music zips along at a clip that ensures even the most nervous dancer can’t sit still while the music’s playing.
In 1999, “Honeysuckle Rose” became part of the Grammy Hall of Fame. It remains a popular jazz standard.
Related: Check out our list of songs about Roses.
4. “If You’re Going To San Francisco” By Scott McKenzie
It’s difficult not to talk about songs about flowers without remembering the flower power of the 1960s. “If You’re Going to San Francisco” perfectly encapsulates that fervor. It was released in 1967 and sung by Scott McKenzie.
Famously, the song’s opening line urges listeners to come out west wearing flower garlands. Then the lyrics continue with a gentle, relaxed rhythm.
What’s notable about “If You’re Going to San Francisco” is the ending. The vocals fade to nothing. It’s not abrupt because the chord progressions resolve. But they do so with such decrescendo that they fade to silence. It’s as if the song leaves open possibilities for the listener in keeping with the sentiment behind the lyrics.
5. “The Flower Duet” By Joan Sutherland And Marylyn Horne
These days, modern listeners still know this famous aria from Leo Délibes’ opera Lakme as an integral part of British Airways commercials. Joan Sutherland And Marylyn Horne have a hair-raising performance of “The Flower Duet.”
This song was intended as a moving tale about a priest who was prohibited from practicing his religion. His daughter and her servant go to the riverbank and pick flowers for a bath in the river. They describe the flowers around them, such as white jasmine and roses.
Crucially, Lakme is an opera about love. Familial love, friendship, and romantic love, in particular. The intricate, close-set harmony is a testament to that.
6. “There Is A Rose In Spanish Harlem” By The Drifters
Another old song that unabashedly uses flowers metaphorically is “Spanish Harlem” by the Drifters. Ben E. King, who led the second group of the Drifters, wrote the song as a love letter to the part of New York he loved. It was his first triumph after breaking from the Drifters.
A surface reading of the lyrics suggests the rose is a beautiful woman who inspires the speaker. In the same way, the rose blossoming through the concrete is a metaphor for people who overcame adversity.
After the song’s first recording, subsequent versions integrated typical Spanish musical elements. These include marimba, Spanish guitar, drums, and a male chorus. But the most noticeable alteration came from producer Mike Stoller. King credits him with the piano trill that became the signature of “Spanish Harlem.”
7. “Waltz Of The Flowers” By The London Festival Orchestra
There’s nothing overtly seasonal about Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers,” as performed by The London Festival Orchestra. Except that this song is strongly associated with Christmas. That’s because it’s part of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker.
Memorably, it’s the dance that conjures the Sugar Plum Fairy. Despite being the last movement of the ballet, it doesn’t burst into grand, celebratory closing movements. Instead, it starts small and lyrical. Listen to the violins. They play a line that nods and bobs like flowers in the summertime.
That contrasts with a rich, warm legato line. It’s beautiful music, and when it does escalate, the contrast is more striking for the slow and indulgent beginning.
8. “I Only Bought You Flowers” By The Other Guys
The English poet Wendy Cope once famously wrote a poem praising a fictive partner for thinking about buying her flowers. Who wouldn’t love being given flowers, after all?
The Other Guys’ “I Only Bought You Flowers” is a playful musical riposte. It’s the story of someone who’s forever gifting his sweetheart flowers. It’s unapologetically sentimental, but the jaunty melody keeps it from being overly sweet.
What’s notable about this song is that it mentions almost all of the flowers. From roses to daffodils, the singer always has something to give her. Isn’t it sweet?
9. “A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing” By Ella Fitzgerald
Here’s another song that showcases several flowers. Daffodils crop up again, as do azaleas and gardenias. “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” is a smooth, melancholy melody in Ella Fitzgerald‘s capable hands. It swoops unexpectedly low and has atypical harmonies and blue notes that keep it interesting.
It’s not heard as much these days, and it’s a shame because it’s a complex musical piece. It’s a slower kind of jazz, but it’s tender, and it deserves to be revisited.
Besides, when you listen to the words, you’ll fall in love with the song. It says that flowers remain beautiful no matter what happens. Where it grows, whatever time of day, you can appreciate its beauty.
10. “The Crown of Roses” By The Choir of King’s College Cambridge
You might agree that Tchaikovsky can’t write a wrong note. “The Crown of Roses” is one of his choral works. It tells the apocryphal story of a young Christ’s encounter with other children in a rose garden. Watch the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge‘s performance above.
The flowers of this song are actual. However, they carry heavy religious implications and anticipate the Crown of Thorns that Christ wore on the cross.
The lyrics talk about a small garden that Jesus kept when he was a boy. He loved roses and made garlands out of them. One day several children came by and picked all of the flowers. They made a crown out of the thorns and put it on his head.
11. “The Flowers That Bloom In The Spring” By John Reed
From the sublime to the faintly ridiculous, “The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring” is a piece from Gilbert and Sullivan’s satirical operetta The Mikado.
In the song, John Reed’s Koko has lost the woman he loves to the hero. Instead, he has to marry the awful Katisha, and he’s less than thrilled. The jocular, lilting, even bouncy rhythm of the song belies this.
When the volta arrives in the second verse, notice how Reed uses the dance-like rhythm to offset Koko’s frustration. The flowers aren’t the point. His frustrated love is. It’s a bit like listening to a musical soufflé, but it’s a fun soufflé. Listen as Reed spits out the words with astonishing diction at equally astonishing speed.
12. “Supermarket Flowers” By Ed Sheeran
When you think of flowers, you immediately think of positive things. But when you hear Ed Sheeran’s “Supermarket Flowers,” it is filled with a somber air.
In the lyrics, the singer talks about the events following someone’s death. He takes the supermarket flowers from the windowsill, along with other mementos such as stuffed animals.
Everything he encounters reminds him of his loss. In real life, Sheeran lost his grandmother around the time he was recording the song. “Supermarket Flowers” became a tribute to her.
13. “Pussy Willows, Cat Tails, Soft Winds, And Roses” by Gordon Lightfoot
Last, but far from least, is Gordon Lightfoot’s melancholic “Pussy Willows, Cat Tails, Soft Winds, and Roses.” This song features several seasonal bouquets and has some of the most poetic lyrics on our list.
Lightfoot wrote and recorded the song in 1968. It was an immediate success, and many argue it is Canada’s most beautiful folk song.
When listening to the lyrics, it’s hard to disagree. The song refers to a particular day, perhaps sometime between spring and summer. This is evidenced by the growing pussy willows and dusty roadside.
Summing Up Our List Of Songs About Flowers
Flowers have this magic that makes us smile when we see them. As you’ve seen from our list above, sometimes they’re a metaphor for something larger than life.
Whatever the genre and the flower, these are worth a listen. They’re thoughtful songs and may leave you with a deeper appreciation of flowers and music.
Whether you’re looking for something to listen to while you tend your garden or just want to appreciate its beauty, play one of these songs. You’ll appreciate flowers more.