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 youBut 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:
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
Lady, your love's the only love I needHe 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!
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!
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.