♫ The 🌈 Rainbow 🌈 Connection ♫

Today, our friend Ellen reminds me, is National Find A Rainbow Day!  According to the National Day Calendar people …

Each year on April 3rd, National Find A Rainbow Day challenges us to look to the sky and find a colorful ray of hope cast across it. 

There are people that see rainbows as an artistic masterpiece in the sky, to others it is a sign of hope and to many a sign of promise.
It can be all three; beauty, hope and promise.    (Jill Magnus) 

A spectrum of light in the form of a multicolored arc, appearing in the sky, is caused by both reflection and refraction of light in water droplets in the Earth’s atmosphere. These rainbows always appear directly opposite of the sun.  The light is refracted (bent) when it enters a droplet of water, then is reflected inside on the back of the droplet and refracted again when leaving it.

Red is the color that is visible on the outer part of a rainbow and violet on the inside of a primary rainbow. Children learn in science class the mnemonic ROYGBIV to help them to remember the sequence of colors in a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Many forms of airborne water can cause rainbows including, rain, mist, spray, and dew.  

Now, rainbows are rare in nature, but … perhaps we can make our own rainbow today?  I think we all need a sign of hope and promise, so … maybe if we just take ten minutes to close our eyes, listen to some music, and imagine a beautiful rainbow in our hearts.  Or draw one, if you have any artistic talent.  Anyway … this is a music post, and anytime I think of a rainbow, I think of one of my favourite characters of all time …

And in case any of you are curmudgeons that don’t just love Kermit, here is The Carpenter’s version …

The Rainbow Connection
Kermit the Frog/Carpenters

Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, and rainbows have nothing to hide
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong wait and see

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me
Who said that wishes would be heard and answered when wished on the morningstar?

Someone thought of that and someone believed it
Look what it’s done so far
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing and what do we think we might see?

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me
All of us under its spell
We know that it’s probably magic
Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name

Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors
The voice might be one and the same

I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it
It’s something that I’m supposed to be

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Kenny Ascher / Paul Hamilton Williams
The Rainbow Connection lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company

♫ Release Me ♫

I have only played one other song by the group Wilson Phillips, and that was Hold On.  As I noted there, the group has an interesting history.  It was comprised of three female singers: Chynna Phillips, Carnie Wilson & Wendy Wilson. Chyna Phillips is the daughter of John & Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas, and the two Wilson girls are the daughters of Brian Wilson of Beach Boy fame, and Marilyn Rovell of The Honeys. They all grew up together in Southern California and the girls started the group when they were only teens.

This song was the group’s second hit single, hitting number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 on September 15, 1990 and spending two weeks at number one.  Glen Ballard produced the album and helped them get a record deal by putting together a 4-song demo for the group.

When Glen Ballard first heard Wilson Phillips, he was impressed by how when they sang together, it sounded like one voice. That’s the sound heard on “Release Me,” where they sing together throughout the song. Learning their lessons from vocal groups of the past, Wilson Phillips tried to keep their contributions balanced, making sure none of the three became the focal point.

Release Me
Wilson Phillips

I know that it’s time for a change
Mmm but when that change comes
Will you still feel the same?

How many times have I tried to turn this love around?
I don’t want to give up
But baby it’s time I had two feet on the ground
Can you release me
Can you release me
Now that you’re gone I can’t help myself from wondering
Oh, if you’d have come down from your high
Would we’ve been all right?
Release me
Can you release me

Come on baby, come on baby
You knew it was time to just let go
‘Cause we want to be free
But somehow it’s just not that easy
Come on Darlin’, hear me Darlin’
‘Cause you’re a waste of time for me
I’m trying to make you see
That baby you’ve just got to release me
Release me
Release me
I’m not going back to you anymore
Finally my weakened heart is healing though very slow
So stop coming around my door
‘Cause you’re not gonna find
What you’re looking for

Come on baby, come on baby
You knew it was time to just let go
‘Cause we want to be free
But somehow it’s just not that easy
Come on Darlin’, hear me Darlin’
‘Cause you’re a waste of time for me
I’m trying to make you see
That baby you’ve just got to release me
Release me
Release me
I’m not going back to you anymore
Finally my weakened heart is healing though very slow
So stop coming around my door
‘Cause you’re not gonna find
What you’re looking for

What is this power you’ve got on me
What is this power, Oh
What is it, What is it

Come on baby, come on baby
You knew it was time to just let go
‘Cause we want to be free
But somehow it’s just not that easy
Come on Darlin’, hear me Darlin’
‘Cause you’re a waste of time for me
I’m trying to make you see
That baby you’ve just got to release me
Release me
Release me
I’m not going back to you anymore
Finally my weakened heart is healing though very slow
So stop coming around my door
‘Cause you’re not gonna find
What you’re looking for

Release me
Will you release me
Ah…Release me
Will you release me

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Carnie Wilson / Chynna Phillips / Wendy Viora Wilson
Release Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ MacArthur Park ♫

I was working on another music post for tonight, but the more I researched the background, the more in-depth it became, and … long story short, I got tired and wanted to go to bed.  So, I’m taking a shortcut (again) and re-posting one of the very first ones I ever posted when I first started my music posts.  In fact, though, for some reason this one has been in my head for several days now anyway.  When last I played this, back in July 2018, Ellen commented that her favourite version is Donna Summer’s.  I still prefer Richard Harris, but hey … I try to please everyone, so tonight I have added Ms. Summer’s version as well.


This one should be familiar to those of my generation both in the U.S. and across the pond, for in 1968 it hit #2 on the U.S. charts and #4 in the UK.  It reached the #1 spot in both Australia and Canada, however. Others have recorded this song, including country singer Waylon Jennings and Donna Summer, but I’ve always been partial to the Richard Harris version.  Not the most cheerful song, perhaps, but it suits my mood tonight … ♫ Someone left the cake out in the rain ♫  …  just be thankful you don’t have to listen to me singing it!

MacArthur Park
Richard Harris/Donna Summer

Spring was never waiting for us, dear
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance

MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no

I recall the yellow cotton dress
Foaming like a wave
On the ground beneath your knees
The birds, like tender babies in your hands
And the old men playing Chinese checkers by the trees

MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no

MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left my cake out in the rain
And I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no, oh

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Jimmy Webb
Macarthur Park lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Right Here Waiting For You ♫ (Redux)

I first played this one back in November 2018.  I am playing it again tonight for reasons that … must remain my own.  Nonetheless, I hope you all enjoy the music!


Singer and songwriter Richard Marx wrote this song on the road as a love letter to his wife, actress Cynthia Rhodes.

“I wrote the song for my wife Cynthia who was in South Africa shooting for a film. We were not married then and I wanted to meet her because I had not seen her for a few months. But my visa application was rejected and when I came back I wrote this song which was more of a letter from me to her. It was the fastest song I wrote, in barely 20 minutes. And this was the time when there was no Skype and Social networking so I had to ship the track to her. The song was very personal and was not intended to go public. But my friends pursued me to record it.”

A bit about Richard Marx … His father wrote TV jingles for chocolate bars and peanut butter, and Richard made his professional debut singing on some of his dad’s commercials. When he was 18, Marx left his hometown of Chicago and headed to LA, where another commercial-minded musician, Lionel Richie, took the young singer-songwriter under this wing. After a 5-year apprenticeship in which he sang harmonies on several of Richie’s hits had some of his compositions recorded by artists such as Kenny Rogers and Chicago, Marx finally landed his own recording contract. And he was poised for stardom: Marx’s self-titled 1987 debut album yielded four top-10 hits, including the #1 song Hold On To The Nights.

Marx originally pitched the song to Barbra Streisand. But she had a few issues with his lyrics. “She called and said, ‘I love this music, this melody is gorgeous, but if I’m going to record it, I’m going to need you to rewrite the lyrics because I’m not going to be right here waiting for anybody,'”  I’m rather glad he kept the song … and the lyrics.

Right Here Waiting for You
Richard Marx

Oceans apart day after day
And I slowly go insane
I hear your voice on the line
But it doesn’t stop the pain

If I see you next to never
How can we say forever

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you
Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you

I took for granted, all the times
That I thought would last somehow
I hear the laughter, I taste the tears
But I can’t get near you now

Oh, can’t you see it baby
You’ve got me going crazy

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you
Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you

I wonder how we can survive
This romance
But in the end if I’m with you
I’ll take the chance

Oh, can’t you see it baby
You’ve got me going crazy

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you
Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you
Waiting for you

Songwriters: Richard Marx
Right Here Waiting for You lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management

♫ Touch Me ♫

Doors guitarist Robby Krieger wrote this song as “Hit Me,” based on fights he had with his girlfriend. They lyric was, “C’mon, hit me, I’m not afraid.” In a rare show of restraint, Jim Morrison insisted on changing it to Touch Me.  At the end of the song, Morrison chants “Stronger than dirt!” The line is from an Ajax commercial popular at the time where a white knight rides around destroying dirt. The last four chords of the song were also lifted from the commercial.the doorsMany critics claimed this was a sellout, as the horn and string sections were not typical of The Doors. The band admitted they were trying to broaden their audience and achieve commercial success with this album, which they did.

The sax part was played by Curtis Amy, who was a popular session horn and flute player who got his biggest exposure playing on Carole King’s famous Tapestry album. Jim Morrison remarked that the song was the first rock hit with a jazz solo.jim morrisonSomething that was news to me when I was researching this song tonight … this song was popular around the time Jim Morrison was arrested in Miami for indecent exposure. The song had nothing to do with Morrison’s arrest, apart from an unfortunate title, but some radio stations refused to play it as a result. Morrison was convicted and sentenced to six months in jail for the incident, but he died while the case was being appealed. In 2010, the governor of Florida pardoned Morrison, believing that the conviction was politically motivated and that no conclusive evidence showed that the Doors frontman exposed himself.

Touch Me
The Doors

Yeah!
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

Now, I’m gonna love you
‘Till the heavens stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
‘Till the stars fall from the sky
For you and I

Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

I’m gonna love you
‘Till the heaven stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
‘Till the stars fall from the sky
For you and I
I’m gonna love you
‘Till the heavens stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
‘Till the stars fall from the sky
For you and I

♫ Kenny Rogers — Final Tribute ♫

Well, folks, it’s been a week of memories, hasn’t it?  I’m sad to see it end, and I realize I didn’t get to all the requests from everybody, but I have made note of them and … Kenny’s legacy, his music, remains with us to be played over and over, whenever we want.  I debated what to do for this final post.  Lady was requested by a couple of people, but since I had already played it twice, last May and in October 2018, I held off on that one.  For tonight’s grand finale, if you will, I selected a few songs and tributes from other artists.  Rather than take up space with trivia & lyrics, I shall let the videos speak for themselves.  First, of course, it had to be Dolly’s own tribute …

What would any tribute to Kenny be without his iconic The Gambler

Even morning talk/news show Good Morning America had to say ‘goodbye’ to Kenny in style …

And, as our friend Ellen suggested, there might be no better tribute than this song by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, You Can’t Make Old Friends …

I finish with a recording that Kenny, along with so many other wonderful artists, such as Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Michael Jackson, James Ingram, and too many to even name, participated in to raise money for humanitarian aid.  The first recording session on January 21st, 1985 brought together some of the most well-known artists in the music industry at the time.

This one never fails to bring a lump to my throat and a tear to my eyes.  What a perfect way, I think, to close this tribute to a great artist …

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this week-long tribute to the late Kenny Rogers … I have certainly enjoyed doing it!  R.I,P. Kenny,  and thank you for all you have given us.

♫ Just The Way You Are ♫

Last night I was tired, and forgot to include any Kenny Rogers’ trivia in my post.  As we’re nearing the end of this tribute week, there are a few more things I wanted to include.  Kenny did duets with a number of other artists, but the ones he is most remembered for are the ones he did with Dolly Parton.  So, how did the two meet and connect?kenny-dolly-2The two first crossed paths in Nashville in the early days of their careers, and he helped her when she headlined a syndicated TV show in the 1970s.

“Kenny was a big star, and I couldn’t get any people on my show. Kenny said ‘I’ll do it,’ and I’ll never forget it. He’s always been there for me as a friend.”

Nearly a decade later, Rogers was in the recording studio with Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, who had just co-written Islands in the Stream and decided to give it to Rogers. After a few days trying to record, Rogers didn’t like how it sounded and was ready to give up. According to Rogers, Gibb said, “You know what we need? We need Dolly Parton.”  By coincidence, Parton happened to be the same studio that day. Rogers’ manager went to go find her.  Recalls Kenny …

“She came marching into the room, and once she came in and started singing, the song was never the same. It took on a personality of its own.” 

Of all their duets, Islands in the Stream is my very favourite, but I find that I have already played it three times here, so … I’ll wait a while before playing it again.


Last night I played We’ve Got Tonight that Kenny sang with Sheena Easton, and I mentioned that while I loved Kenny Rogers, I preferred the Bob Seger version of that particular song.  Well, guess what?  Tonight’s song … same thing!  While I love Kenny Rogers in all things, for this particular one, I prefer Billy Joel’s version.  But, as I said last night, this is a week-long tribute to the late, great Kenny Rogers, not the alive-and-whole Billy Joel.

I actually just discovered that I played the Billy Joel and Barry White versions of this, as well as one where Joel visits Sesame Street with Marlee Matlin back in January, but as I had a special request for the version by Kenny Rogers and Dottie West, that is tonight’s fare!

Just The Way You Are
Kenny Rogers/Dottie West

Don’t go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore

I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times; I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you?

I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are

Songwriters: Billy Joel
Just The Way You Are lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., BMG Rights Management

♫ We’ve Got Tonight ♫

This is next on the list of requests for Kenny Rogers’ tribute week, and as I listened to it, I noticed that something about it bothered me.  I listened again, checked out a couple of other versions, but something still didn’t sound quite right.  And then, I figured it out.  Now, you all know I love Kenny Rogers, he is in my top ten favourites (Stevie Wonder is in the #1 slot), but for this song, I prefer the original done by Bob Seger.  However … this is a week-long tribute to the late Kenny Rogers, not the still-living Seger, so …

Seger wrote this and first recorded it on his 1978 album Stranger in Town. Seger wrote the song after seeing the movie The Sting, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. In the film, there’s scene where Redford puts the moves on a waitress, who says, “I don’t even know you.” He replies: “You know me. I’m the same as you. It’s two in the morning and I don’t know nobody.”  According to Seger …

“That just hit me real hard. The next day I wrote ‘We’ve Got Tonight,’ this song about two people who say ‘I’m tired. It’s late at night. I know you don’t really dig me, and I don’t really dig you, but this is all we’ve got, so let’s do it.’ The sexual revolution was still going strong then.”

In 1983, Kenny Rogers recorded the song as a duet with Scottish pop star Sheena Easton, and made it the title track of his album We’ve Got Tonight.  Said Rogers …

“I liked the idea of recording with Sheena: I thought the contrast in styles – I’m so throaty and she’s so trained and pure – would really work well.”

Easton’s contribution to the track would prove a bone of critical contention: whereas Rolling Stone critic Christopher Connelly would dismiss the Easton/Rogers duet of We’ve Got Tonight as “shrieking [and] insensitive”, and Jerseyite critic Jim Bohen would lament how Rogers “who usually sounds good duetting with women” was defeated by “Easton’s nails-across-the-blackboard voice”, Dennis Hunt (Los Angeles Times) would prefer the Rogers/Easton take to the Seger original due to a “very appealing blend of sharply contrasting voices, his deep and hers very high” adding that “Rogers, never known for his vocal power, stretches to match Easton, [attaining] his finest vocal performance”, and AllMusic critic Joe Viglione would opine that Easton’s “splendid voice reaching the high registers over Kenny’s familiar monotone…really makes [the track] special.”

We’ve Got Tonight
Kenny Rogers, Sheena Easton

I know it’s late, I know you’re weary
I know your plans don’t include me
Still here we are, both of us lonely
Longing for shelter from all that we see
Why should we worry, no one will care girl
Look at the stars so far away
We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?
We’ve got tonight babe
Why don’t you stay?

Deep in my soul I’ve been so lonely
All of my hopes fading away
I’ve longed for love like everyone else does
I know I’ll keep searching even after today
So there it is girl, I’ve said it all now
And here we are babe, what do you say?
We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?
We’ve got tonight babe
Why don’t you stay?

I know it’s late, I know you’re weary
I know your plans don’t include me
Still here we are, both of us lonely
Both of us lonely

We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?
Let’s make it last, let’s find a way
Turn out the light, come take my hand now
We’ve got tonight babe
Why don’t you stay?
Why don’t you stay?

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Bob Seger
We’ve Got Tonight lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

♫ Lucille ♫

As we continue on our week-long tribute to the late Kenny Rogers, here’s some trivia I bet you didn’t know:

  • KENNY ROGERS AND DON HENLEY USED TO BE ROOMMATES.
    In 1970, Rogers discovered Don Henley’s pre-Eagles band, Shiloh, and produced their self-titled debut record. “It’s not like he was in the mud somewhere and I walked up,” Rogers explained of how he “discovered” the band. “But I found his group and took them to L.A. and they lived with me for six months.”
  • KENNY ROGERS WAS A PRO-LEVEL TENNIS PLAYER.
    “I played tennis for 10 years, eight hours a day every day and developed a national ranking while I was on the road playing with Wimbledon champs,” Rogers told Rolling Stone.
  • KENNY ROGERS DABBLED IN INTERIOR DESIGN.
    In 2003, Rogers formed Kenji Design Studio, an Atlanta-based interior design firm, with business partner Jim Weinberg. The company went on to score some major contracts, like its bid to design all of the graphics, common spaces, model units, and employee uniforms at the Trump Towers Atlanta.  For his part, Rogers admitted that his design skills were really self-taught: “I’ve done 20 houses of my own, so I come to this from a totally emotional standpoint,” Rogers told the Chicago Tribune in 2007.

I picked up my list tonight of the Kenny Rogers songs you guys had mentioned or requested, and next on the list was Lucille.  I thought … nah, I just played Ruby last night and I really didn’t know that I wanted to play another about a woman who was, shall we say less than what a woman should be.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I thought … “Yeah, the two kind of go hand-in-hand”, and Lucille wouldn’t leave my head, so … here we are.

This song, released in 1977, was written by Hal Bynum and Roger Bowling.  The song was inspired by real-life events, as Bynum’s own marriage was in trouble when he started writing this tune. He was struggling with the temptation of another woman’s amorous advances and as his wife was preparing herself for a trip away, Bynum said, “You picked a fine time to leave me.” 

Lucille was Kenny Rogers’ first major hit as a solo artist after leaving his band The First Edition the previous year. An international success, it was the first of 21 Country #1s for the singer.  Wow … 21 #1 hits???  That’s remarkable!  I didn’t know!

Kenny Rogers’ mother was named Lucille; when she heard the song, she called her son to admonish him because she thought it was about her. Kenny explained that he didn’t write the song, and no reasonable person would think that Mrs. Rogers would leave four hungry children to cheat on her husband. Lucille Rogers actually had eight children.

Lucille
Kenny Rogers

In a bar in Toledo across from the depot
On a barstool, she took off her ring
I thought I’d get closer so I walked on over
I sat down and asked her name
When the drinks finally hit her she said “I’m no quitter
But I finally quit livin’ on dreams
I’m hungry for laughter and here ever after
I’m after whatever the other life brings”
In the mirror, I saw him and I closely watched him
I thought how he looked out of place
He came to the woman who sat there beside me
He had a strange look on his face
The big hands were calloused, he looked like a mountain
For a minute I thought I was dead
But he started shaking, his big heart was breaking
He turned to the woman and said

“You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille
With four hungry children and a crop in the field
I’ve had some bad times, lived through some sad times
But this time your hurting won’t heal
You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille”

After he left us, I ordered more whiskey
I thought how she’d made him look small
From the lights of the barroom
To a rented hotel room
We walked without talking at all
She was a beauty but when she came to me
She must have thought I’d lost my mind
I couldn’t hold her ’cause the words that he told her
Kept coming back time after time

“You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille
With four hungry children and a crop in the field
I’ve had some bad times, lived through some sad times
But this time your hurting won’t heal
You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille

You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille
With four hungry children and a crop in the field
I’ve had some bad times, lived through some sad times
But this time your hurting won’t heal
You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille”

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Richard Penniman / Albert Collins
Lucille lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Royalty Network, Songtrust Ave

♫ Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town ♫

As part of this week-long tribute to Kenny Rogers, one of my all-time favourites, each night I plan to include a bit of trivia.  In 2017, Kenny Rogers did an interview with Southern Living magazine.  One of the questions he was asked was to recount his favourite memory of Dolly Parton, his long-time friend and singing partner.  Kenny said his favorite moment was in 2013 while they were recording their final duet together called You Can’t Make Old Friends. At one point, he looked up and saw Parton was no longer at her microphone. Suddenly, she appeared by his side, and put her arms around his neck. “Kenny, I think you should know, I could never sing at your funeral.”

Rogers laughed at the memory. “I went, ‘So we’re assuming I’m going first?’ ” He chuckled again. “But I love her for that. You never know what she’s going to say, but it always comes from love.”Kenny-DollyWhen I first mentioned that I was considering Ellen’s idea for a week-long tribute to the late Kenny Rogers, you guys started giving me ideas, letting me know your favourites, and I jotted them all down.  The #1 favourite, with four requests, is this one … Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town.

I had no idea that Mel Tillis had written this song!  The song tells the story of a wounded soldier who has returned home to a woman who shows him little sympathy, leaving him to go out at night and enjoy the company of other men. All he can do is beg her to stay home and keep him company, but his pleas fall on deaf ears.

Tillis based the song on a real-life couple who lived near his family in Florida. In real life, the man was wounded in Germany in World War II and sent to recuperate in England. There, he married a nurse who took care of him at the hospital. The two of them moved to Florida shortly afterward, but he made periodic return trips to the hospital as problems with his wounds kept flaring up. His wife saw another man as the veteran lay in the hospital.  The real couple’s story had a tragic ending:  the man killed her in a murder-suicide.

I also didn’t know that Tillis was the first to release this song, including it on his 1967 album Life’s That Way. Waylon Jennings, Johnny Darrell, The Statler Brothers and Bobby Goldsboro all recorded the song later that year, with Darrell’s version going to #9 on the Country chart. Kenny Rogers recorded the definitive version with his band The First Edition in 1969, taking it to #2 in the UK and to #6 in the U.S.

A lot of controversy surrounded this song when it became a hit for Kenny Rogers in 1969, as the Vietnam War was raging and the song was often assumed to be about a man who came home crippled from that war. Rogers would perform the song in a jovial manner, and the crowd would often clap and sing along, so to some it was seen as disrespectful to veterans. In a 1970 interview with Beat Instrumental, Rogers defended the song, saying:

“Look, we don’t see ourselves as politicians, even if a lot of pop groups think they are in the running for a Presidential nomination. We are there, primarily, to entertain. Now if we can entertain by providing thought-provoking songs, then that’s all to the good. But the guys who said ‘Ruby’ was about Vietnam were way off target – it was about Korea. But whatever the message, and however you interpret it, fact is that we wouldn’t have looked at it if it hadn’t been a GOOD song. Just wanna make good records, that’s all.”

I’ve included two versions here.  The first is Kenny with The First Edition back in 1972, and the second is Kenny sans The First Edition, some thirty years later.  They are both good, I think my preference is the second, however.

Ruby
Kenny Rodgers

You’ve painted up your lips and rolled and curled your tinted hair
Ruby are you contemplating going out somewhere?
The shadows on the wall tell me the sun is going down
Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to town

It wasn’t me that started that old crazy Asian war
But I was proud to go and do my patriotic chore
And yes, it’s true that I’m not the man I used to be
Oh Ruby, I still need some company

It’s hard to love a man whose legs are bent and paralyzed
And the wants and needs of a woman your age really I realize
But it won’t be long, I’ve heard them say, until I’m not around
Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to town

She’s leaving now cause I just heard the slamming of the door
The way I know I heard its slams one hundred times before
And if I could move I’d get my gun and put her in the ground
Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to town

Oh Ruby, for God’s sake, turn around

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Mel Tillis
Ruby lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group