Garden Party (Rick Nelson song)

Garden Party (Rick Nelson song)

"Garden Party" was a 1972 hit song for Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band from the album "Garden Party". It tells of his being booed off the stage at Madison Square Garden, seemingly because he was playing his newer, country-tinged music instead of the 1950s-era rock that he had been successful with earlier, and his realization that "you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself".

The concert

On October 15, 1971, a Rock 'n Roll Revival concert was given at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The playbill included many greats of the early rock era, including Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Bobby Rydell.

Nelson came on stage dressed in the then-current fashion, wearing bell-bottoms and a purple velvet shirt, with his hair hanging down to his shoulders. He started playing his older songs "Hello Mary Lou" and "She Belongs to Me", but then he played The Rolling Stones hit song "Honky Tonk Woman" and the crowd began to boo. While some reports say that the booing was caused by police action in the back of the audience, Nelson took it personally and left the stage. He watched the rest of the concert backstage and did not take his final bow for the finale.

The song

The song, released the next year, reached #6 on the U.S. pop chart and was certified a gold record by the RIAA. The song tells of various people who were present, frequently in an oblique manner ("Yoko brought her Walrus", referring to Yoko Ono and John Lennon), with a quietly defiant chorus:

"But it's all right now, I've learned my lesson well.
"You see, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself"

One more reference in the lyrics to a particularly mysterious and legendary audience member was his nod to Bob Dylan, using Howard Hughes as a reference point for Dylan's Cold War-style attire: "Mister Hughes hid in Dylan's shoes, wearin' his disguise.".


"Garden Party" reached #6 on the "Billboard" Hot 100 chart in the fall of 1972, remaining in the Top 40 for twelve weeks. The song also topped the "Billboard" adult contemporary chart for two weeks. [Whitburn, Joel (1996). "The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits", 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)] The song also reached #44 on Billboard's Country Singles Chart. Coincidentally, this was at the same time when two other '50s rock legends were on the charts: Chuck Berry's "My Ding-a-Ling" was at #1 and Elvis Presley's "Burning Love" at #2. This was Nelson's last Top 10 hit on the pop chart.


Country singer Johnny Lee recorded a cover version of the song in the late 1970s, entitled "Country Party", with slightly altered lyrics.

External links

* [ Lyrics]
* [ Rick Nelson's biography at his official website]
* [ Straight Dope description of the concert and some people mentioned]
* 1973 "Rolling Stone" [ review]


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