I’ve always held a special place in my heart for Kenny Rogers’ music. His music was a big part of my childhood, dominating much of the radio airplay landscape in the 1970s and ‘80s while I was growing up. And, although many consider him primarily a country artist, Kenny Rogers actually had even more success on the adult contemporary charts where he is one of the top 10 artists of all time! As a big fan of this lighter side of music, his music has always resonated with me. Whether it’s a song about being in love, falling into love, or falling out of love, Kenny always seemed to sing from the heart! Even though he dabbled in a lot of different sounds over the years, including psychedelic rock, country, pop, adult contemporary, and R&B, the overarching theme always came back to love.
With his recent passing on Friday, March 20, 2020, I wanted to share ten of my favorite songs of Kenny’s in no particular order. This list doesn’t include Islands in the Stream, or Lady, since we can probably all agree those are fantastic songs, and I don’t need to encourage you to check those two out.
Morning Desire: This top 10 adult contemporary hit from 1985 might be just perfect for those of you quarantined with a lover, or with someone of whom you want to be your lover! Morning never sounded so wonderful, and with no coffee required! This song has a very 80s-esque quality, but it still sounds oh so good today! Probably not such a good song though for those of us living alone, or when going outside in these social distancing times! But, when the shelter in place orders have been released, maybe more can participate in said activities suggested in the song?
Buy Me A Rose: Sometimes the simplest things can be the most meaningful in life. This was Kenny’s big comeback hit in 1999 going to number one on the country chart, and peaking at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. Vocal assists on this song are provided by Alison Krauss and Billy Dean. Especially right now, while many are unemployed, scared, or ill, this song speaks volumes. Why not do something today to show someone you love them?
I Don’t Need You: Much like the song by Michael Bolton from 1993, Said I Loved You...But I Lied, his song has often been woefully misinterpreted based on its title. But if you listen carefully, you’ll see what a beautiful song it is, and any tears of sadness will quickly turn to tears of joy! This was Kenny’s biggest adult contemporary hit, spending 6 weeks at number one in the year 1981.
Lucille: You can picture all the characters in this song, as Kenny sings about them in the lyrics. I’ve always felt emotions for each of the various people in the song, and can picture their facial expressions, how they are walking, what they’re wearing, and that’s not something that happens when I listen to too many songs! This was Kenny’s first solo top five on the Billboard Hot 100, in 1977.
Coward of the County: Yet another one of those story songs where are you get to know the characters, and “root” for the protagonist to successfully overcome his adversaries. And when he does, it’s so cathartic! If you’re having a bad day, this song can definitely help. Often, the good guy does win! This was a number one country hit in 1979, and it also went top five on the Billboard Hot 100 and adult contemporary charts.
She Believes In Me: I’ve always loved this song! The singer referenced in this song is not really sure of how good he is, or whether he can support his family, and is filled with anxiety, but the power of his partner’s love and faith in him keeps him moving forward. In these trying times, this song might be the perfect antidote! Perhaps singing it with your loved one might make today just a little brighter! This was Kenny’s first number one hit on the adult contemporary charts, when it peaked at number one in the spring of 1979.
Twenty Years Ago: With all the uncertainty going on right now some of you may want to reminisce. Of course, referencing from today, 20 years ago would be Y2K; I guess you can reminisce about the Y2K bugs and fears that the grocery store doors wouldn’t open on New Year’s Day! But when this song was first recorded back in 1986, the year being referenced was 1966. In any case, it’s a great song with great emotion and melody. The song peaked at number two on the country chart and number 15 adult contemporary.
The Gambler: The title of this song might hit too close to home right now, but it is Kenny’s “signature” song, and one that really tells the story of life in a fantastically metaphorical way. It was a big number one hit on the country chart and also went top 10 on the adult contemporary chart in 1978.
We’ve Got Tonight: This song has been covered by a lot of artists over the years, but my favorite version by far is this version featuring Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton. They sound so good together, and the production quality on the song is perfect! It went to number one on the country chart, number two adult contemporary, and top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.
Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In): Technically, this was pre-solo Kenny Rogers, when he was with The First Edition, but who couldn’t use a little psychedelic rock about now? The world is topsy-turvy, lots of people are fearful, so I think we should all drop in to see what condition our condition is in! This was a top 5 Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1968.
What do you think of my list? Are there other Kenny Roger songs I should have included, or other songs I should check out? Let me know, as I’ve *suddenly* got lots of time to listen to music these days!