You don’t generally think of the Rolling Stones as a country-music band, but when they want to be, they do a damn fine job of it. “Dead Flowers,” recorded back in the prehistoric era of 1969, is a great example. Listen to the song as if it were the first time that you ever heard it, forgetting that those playing and singing constitute a celebrity rock band from England, and it just oozes country.
What you also hear, however, is a direction not taken for country music. The Stones were tapping into the country genre at a moment in its history when its commercial sound and its authentic sound had not yet divorced because of irreconcilable differences. It could still be vibrant and rough and at times crude, both in its lyrics and its sound, and it was still true to its shared roots in the blues and rock and roll.
Within a decade of this song’s release, country music in its commercial form had been castrated, and all the hat acts in the world can’t reverse the operation.
– Jay Bookman