Anderson, one of country’s leading female voices throughout the late Sixties and Seventies with a long string of Top 10 hits and recurring appearances on The Lawrence Welk Show, died in a Nashville hospital of a heart attack after being admitted for pneumonia. Her biggest hit came in 1970 with the Joe South-penned “Rose Garden,” which played off the idea of making the best of the hand you’re dealt. It came out just as the American public was reeling from the effects of the Vietnam War.
McGraw and his band cued up the song backstage during the Cleveland, Ohio stop of his Shotgun Rider tour. “This is for Lynn Anderson and her family, much respect,” he says before jumping in. Singing without a microphone, McGraw’s vocals are strong enough to cut through the sound of his full band, while also smooth and controlled in a way that brings the easy-going nature of the tune to life. The whole thing sounds pretty good for being recorded in what looks like a concrete-walled dressing room.
Rocking back and forth with a smile on his face — and even throwing in some of his stage moves for fun — McGraw helps country fans remember Anderson and her enduring hit in the best possible way, happy and full of life.