Reversing the Numbness

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

King Kenny & the CAC

An announcement I saw in Corridor magazine today got me thinking about the first singer I was ever really into: Kenny Rogers. The Gambler himself is coming to Morgantown to play the CAC on March 10.

The pictured album was one of my first records -- I was eight when it came out -- and it was the only Kenny Rogers album I ever listened to. But I listened to it a lot. I was partial to Coward of the County, no so much because I liked the simple tune, but because I liked the idea of the little guy who was trying to make his dead father proud standing up for himself and putting the Gatlin Boys down in a bar -- all of them! -- for the honor of his lady. (I'll get to "Lady" in a minute, don't worry!) Hey, sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man.

I also liked the sappy stuff. I can still remember every word to "She Believes In Me" and "Don't Fall In Love With a Dreamer," and I promise you it's been 20 years since I've heard them. I'd pay ten dollars for either of these songs to come on the radio while I'm driving. You'd probably pay ten to not be in the car.

Just like he started the album with "The Gambler," which is certainly his calling card, he finished it with another knock-out punch, "Lady." The song begins dark, pensive, indebted, as Kenny opines:

Lady, I'm your knight in shining armor and I love you
You have made me what I am and I am yours
My love, there's so many ways I want to say I love you
Let me hold you in my arms forever more
But then he turns it on. He gets bold. He steps it up, just like the Coward of the County did, to lay it all on the line for his lady. The grand finale, not just of the song, not just of the album, not even just of Kenny Rogers' illustrious career, but perhaps of the formative years of my life as a music fan, are Kenny's final lines of the song:
Lady, your love's the only love I need
And beside me is where I want you to be
cause, my love, there's somethin' I want you to know
You're the love of my life, you're my lady!
He starts by sacrificially saying "I am yours" and he ends by telling her where he wants her to be and what he wants her to know! She probably didn't even know he'd flipped the deck on her! She was too busy melting to see it coming!

Okay, I exaggerate. And the song is cheesy as hell now, just like the rest of them. But I remember them all fondly regardless. Not enough to go to the show in March ... but almost.


getto said...

Remember Kenny in the movie "Six Pack?" Still, he's no Neil Diamond.

SleekPelt said...

You mean the Six Pack with the classic line "He went to shake the dew of his lily!"? Hell yes I remember it!

Agreed -- in the real world, Neil Diamond rules pretty much all.

spooge said...

you can't give a review like that and NOT go to the show! That's totally unacceptable.

SleekPelt said...

I came into work this morning and immediately created a Kenny Rogers station on Pandora. The first song I heard, which I was unfamiliar with, actually made me vomit in my mouth a little bit. I'm listening to Metallica now to get the taste out.

No chance I'm going to the show; I'd rather spend the money on an old record player and this album.

Fleming said...

dude, that was my Mom's absolute favorite singer of all-time. Well ... Kenny and Ronnie Milsap. Anyway, when he came to the Coliseum, twenty-some years ago, she actually wrote him a letter offering him room and board, herself as his hairdresser, and my Dad up as security, since he was a city police officer at the time. He didn't stay with us, but she did get a hand-written letter and autographed picture.

I agree, you gotta go to the show.

SleekPelt said...

Can your mom get me backstage passes?

seabass2020 said...

When I think of Mr. Kenny Rogers I personally think of roasted chicken. I haven't eaten chicken in almost 7 years but if I do go on an all out chicken binge right now I might have to be exclusive to Kenny's chain. The favoritism comes largely in part KFC dropping Kentucky for Kitchen and Fried for Fresh. But then again this all went down after Coronel Sanders passing which leads me to believe Kenny Rogers has gone in with Walt Disney and Elvis on an island somewhere where they will all live for eernity. At any rate did anyone ever see the skit on Mad TV all about people that actually look like Kenny? Here's a link dedicated to those fine gentlemen.

SleekPelt said...

It's a good thing somebody looks like Kenny Rogers, because god knows Kenny Rogers doesn't look like Kenny Rogers anymore!

Fleming said...

so, Lady had to be your wedding song, right?

SleekPelt said...

Maybe if I'd married somebody way, way different than Sus. And if I'd been drunk when choosing it.

seabass2020 said...

Not so long ago Bryan and I made a trek to see Elvis Costello with Emmy Lou Harris. Emmy Lou was all dolled up and looking great for her age. Sort of "New and Improved." Seeing the "New and Improved" Kenny was really kind of like seeing RuPaul as a man. I don't really believe it's the same person.

Zee said...

Four quick Kenny Rogers items:

#1- The best poker player in our group swears he learned to gamble strictly from the song "The Gambler."

#2- File this under Odd Couple: Kenny Rogers and Sir Charles Barkley are very close friends. Kenny made a surprise appearance at the reitrement of Barkley's #34 at the Wachovia Center in Philly a few years back. He sang "Through the Years." It actually was quite moving.

#3- When I was in law school, I complained to the manager of a Kenny Rogers' Roaster restaurant where I was about to enjoy a nice pot-pie. The complaint? My single most hated song EVER, American Pie, by Don MaClean, came on in the restaurant and my lunch was about to ruined as I had to listen to it for then next 14 minutes. The manager said that the music was controlled by the home office and he could not change it. I blame Kenny Rogers.

#4- Ever see Mad TV's "Kenny Rogers' Jackass" skit? So f'ing funny.

[I would have hyper-linked #4 to the Youtube video of the skit if I knew how to do that in the comment section. Forgive my ignorance.]

The Dalai Mama said...

Zee, I know you were crying during the "Through the Years" tribute.

SleekPelt said...

re: #1 -- What a coincidence, Zee ... I learned to fight strictly from the song "Coward of the County." I basically sit back and let my antagonists think I won't do anything, and then, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!

re: #2 -- Agreed, that is an odd pairing. Imagine if Kenny would record a song with Gnarls Barkley! Now that would be odd.

re: #3 -- It's my understanding that Kenny Rogers' restaurants are out of business. If the front office had been worried about something other than what music each chain was playing, maybe they'd still be frying chickens.

re: #4 -- So funny.

Melissavina said...

Ah Kenny, he's the true American vocal representative. Thank you for supporting him as I have done for so long.

Only those with exquisitely tuned ears can tap into his true genius.

Melissavina said...

I know that comment comes a little late, but I think you know where I'm coming from.

SleekPelt said...

melissavina: Better late than never. You and I know genius when we hear it, clearly.

Valyna said...

I actually love "She Believes In Me" :) My parents hit a country phase when I was in junior high and the house was flooded with Kenny, Alabama, and Juice Newton for a while. (And honestly, my sisters and I used to be addicted to Hee-Haw and The Mandrell Sisters Variety Show) Hahaha... how times change.

SleekPelt said...

valyna: You're all right, Valyna. I heard "Don't Call Me Angel in the Morning" yesterday and belted out every word I could remember. It's weird now that the songs they play on oldies radio are the songs we listened to as pups.