Although credited to Edison Lighthouse, “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” was recorded by a group of session musicians, including session singer extraordinaire Tony Burrows.
You might not know his name, but you’ll certainly know his voice. Tony Burrows was in the original incarnation of Brotherhood of Man (not the Eurovision winners, but a previous line-up), for whom he sang lead vocal on “United We Stand”, a UK Top 10 in 1970.
He was also in The Ivy League (probably best known for their pre-Tony Burrows hit “Funny How Love Can Be”), The Flowerpot Men (“Let’s Go To San Francisco”), White Plains (“My Baby Loves Lovin’”) and First Class, who recorded one of my favourite songs of all time, “Beach Baby”.
In fact, Tony Burrows was so prolific that he had major chart hits under the guise of several different groups at the same time in the early 1970s, once famously appearing three times on the same episode of Top of the Pops.
With a quick change of clothes between takes and a quick ruffle of the hair for each band, nobody seemed to notice they’d seen the same bloke twice already that evening...
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” is about a time when nothing bad ever happened. It’s a wonderfully positive song and so perfectly recorded that it lifts my heart every time I hear it.
The great thing about songs of the time…including many songs Tony Burrows performed…is that there was very little studio trickery around. Most of it either hadn’t been invented yet, or was so laborious to do manually in the days when songs were recorded on 4, 8 or 16-track tape that in practice people rarely bothered.
Instead, you had to be a great musician because there was nowhere to hide and, unlike today, very little a producer or recording engineer could do to breathe life into something that was fundamentally DOA.
So, in addition to Tony Burrows’ excellent vocals, “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” has wonderful strings and a great brass section to perk up what was already a very upbeat song. It’s so expertly done, no wonder my positivity meter goes right off the scale when “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” comes on the radio.
As a lot of pop songs are, it’s a song about love. That might not come as a huge surprise, given the title. But this is not just a casual affair, a brief fling or a temporary infatuation.
This is a love song for someone who might not have the supermodel figure or the brainpower or Marie Curie, but is still loved…nay, adored…for being exactly the one-of-a-kind person she is…
She ain’t got no money
Her clothes are kinda funny
Her hair is kinda wild and free
But love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” was written by a pair of superstar songwriters of the time, Tony Macaulay and Barry Mason.
Tony Macaulay wrote a string of hits for a range of groups including “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” and “Build Me Up, Buttercup” for The Foundations, “Let The Heartaches Begin” for Long John Baldry and “That Same Old Feeling” for Pickettywitch.
Barry Mason was no slouch either. He wrote “The Last Waltz” for Engelbert Humperdinck, “Here It Comes Again” for The Fortunes and “Delilah” for Tom Jones.
With a pedigree like that, it’s no wonder “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” was peerlessly written and expertly produced, with Tony Macaulay himself sitting in the producer’s chair.
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” was the first UK Number One of the 1970s and, although I’m too young to remember those times, the positive, optimistic, carefree spirit of the late 1960s is still very much running through it.
A few years into the future, the oil embargo and wars in the Middle East would take the shine off a world full of hippies, peace and love. Strikes would bedevil the UK economy and the resultant political strife ushered in a 180-degree change when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister towards the end of the decade.
As a country we’d had enough and were prepared to give something completely different a try. And, to a greater or less extent, everything reverberating through UK politics today was set in motion by things the events, occasions and decisions of the 1970s.
However, before all that happened, there were great songs, full of hope and positive spirit, to enjoy, amongst them Edison Lighthouse’s tale of a guy who loved a girl, even though she might not have fitted neatly into Central Casting’s idea of “the perfect girlfriend”…
She talks kinda lazy
And people say she’s crazy
And her life’s a mystery
Oh, but love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me
And I rather like that. None of us are perfect, even though we all try to be and entire multi-billion dollar industries have sprung up in an attempt to deliver on the promises of perfection they make to both men and women in TV commercials and ads in glossy magazines.
But perfect isn’t what you see with your eyes. Perfect is someone that makes you feel like this…
There’s something about her hand holding mine
It’s a feeling that’s fine
And I just gotta say
She’s really got a magical spell
And it’s working so well
That I can’t get away
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” had a well-deserved five-week stint at the top of the UK charts at the beginning of 1970, and also hit Top Five on the Billboard Hot 100 that same year.
And it’s a song that’s had a place in our hearts ever since. A sweet, innocent song about sweeter, more innocent times that still gets plenty of airplay five decades later.
With Tony Burrows on lead vocals, here’s Edison Lighthouse with the Tony Macaulay/Barry Mason song, “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)”…
(I can’t speak for the relevance of much of this video to the subject in hand, but at least you get to see Tony Burrows and Edison Lighthouse in one of their TV appearances of the time…)
And just in case you’re wondering how Tony Burrows could get away with performing three songs as part of three different groups on the same edition of Top of the Pops without anyone noticing, no, I don’t understand how they got away with it either…