A few days ago, my friend Todd hit me up on IM and asked if knew what the sample was to this:

Shad: Rose Garden
From TSOL (Fontana North, 2010)

Hadn’t caught this last year (song/video appeared early summer 2010) but was instantly smitten by the production.1 I didn’t know the sample though except that it was obviously some cover of Joe South’s country hit, “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden.” I gotta say, it’s a pretty great song on a few different levels. Not only is the songwriting strong but there’s a lot of flexibility in how one might approach it, making it a great song to cover.2 For example, after South, the next artist to find success with it was Dobie Gray in 1969, putting a much stronger soul/funk feel on it.

In fact, I thought maybe it was Gray’s version that was used in the Shad song but even if sped-up, it wasn’t right; the intonations weren’t right and Gray’s got no back-up singers unlike the sample. So I threw the question to the cloud and Brendan Joyce came through.3 Clearly, this is the OG source:

The Three Degrees: Rosegarden4
From Maybe (Roulette, 1970)

Pretty awesome soul take on the tune – I’d say it’s neck and neck with Gray’s, which is a bit slower, though the fact that the Degrees could throw back-up harmonies gives it an edge too (the funky guitars on this are a bit much for me though).

Also, it’s been four years since I first posted it, but if we’re going to talk Three Degrees, gotta give love to this great song off the same Maybe album:

The Three Degrees: Collage
From Maybe (Roulette, 1970)


  1. Much as I think it’s cool to pay homage to Pharcyde’s “Drop,” I wish the execution was a bit sharper. Feeling that umbrella lady though.
  2. That said, best known version is still within the country camp: Lynn Anderson’s 1971 cover, and frankly, I think she sons the shit out of South’s OG.
  3. The cloud also offered up this stunning video clip of the group…singing in Japanese. Whoa.
  4. That’s not a typo. Not sure why they made it a single word but that’s how they spell it on the LP. The 7″ version of the song, on Mojo, spells it as “Rose Garden”. Also: there’s an explosion at the end of the song. Completely fucking random. It’s on the original LP; I have no idea what the hell that’s about.




  1. This Shad album was so underrated IMO. Solid production and some of the most creative rhymes I’ve heard from any rapper of late. Thanks for posting!

  2. I hadn’t heard this version of Collage before, but I’ve always been a big fan of the OG, by the James Gang. It’s made its way onto several of my personal mixes over the last 15 years:

    The Three Degrees do some interesting variations with the harmonies and horns, but I’d say the cinematic melancholy of the song–not to mention the ambitious production style–is all Joe Walsh’s creation.

    (Incidentally, the Breeders also did a cover of this song for a soundtrack some years back, but I’d put it at a distant third in the Collage match-up.)

  3. File this under “damn, I didn’t know it was a cover!”
    On Jan 19, 2011, at 10:51 PM, Echo wrote:

  4. really? somebody didn’t know rose garden was a cover? not to sound smug–a lotta areas you cover i know NOTHING of. Joe South, I know. 

    the actual country hit, though not as sampled, of course, was by anne murray (also of “snowbird” fame) . . . South’s was the first to record it, and Brit singer Sandie Shaw did it about the same time as Murray, though it wasn’t a hit.

    interesting Joe South side note: one of the most distinctive guitar intros in all of soul–the opening to Aretha’s “Chain of Fools”–is none other than South. Hired gun called in by Wexler on the session in Muscle Shoals. also, played on dylan’s blonde on blonde. 


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