Kenny Roger’s songs are timeless. You can bet people will still be singing “The Gambler” well into the 22nd century. You can also bet people will still want to tune in, turn on and drop out with “Lucille.” Kenny Rogers has been making hits for more than 50 years since his debut album ‘Honeyhill’ was released in 1966. During that time, he’s had more than 100 songs make it to the Billboard Top 40. Some of those songs are better than others but if you really want to tell people how much you love Kenny, here are the ten you should be singing at karaoke:
10. “Lucille” (from the “Kenny Rogers:” album – 1977)
This is probably the song that most people who don’t even like country music can’t help singing. The track starts with the band kicking up a storm before Rogers sets things in motion. In the story, Kenny talks about Lucille, a married woman she just met in a bar. The woman removes her wedding ring, and the narrator sees it as an opportunity to go and talk to her. But in the middle of the conversion, a man walks in and directly goes to the woman to address her, uttering the words ““You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.” The man then leaves, but it’s obvious he’s broken. The narrator continues pursuing the woman and eventually woes her to a hotel for a night of fun. However, he still feels sorry for the man, and his conscience cannot allow him to go through with it. He sees himself as the next victim. So, he decides to stop pursuing her and leave. Many artists have also covered this track, including Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Alvin, the Chipmunks, The Doobie Brothers, George Jones, etc.
9. “Coward of the County” (from “Kenny” album – 1979)
A song about a young man, Tommy, with a reputation for not standing for himself. His pacifism earned him the nickname Coward of the County. His behavior was fueled by his father’s last advice on his death bed. In his last word, his father tells him that turning the other cheek is never a sign of weakness and that he doesn’t have to fight to be a man. Tommy later marries a woman called Becky. Life is going great for them until one day, a group of men from the county, the Gatlin brother, enter his home and gang rap her. Tommy returns home to find his wife crying. With his father’s teachings still fresh in his head, he’s torn between defending his wife’s honor and doing the right thing. But upon seeing Becky’s tears and knowing what the Gatlin did, he decides to go to the barroom where the brothers hang out. The brothers laugh at him upon seeing him coming. However, the laugh stops when they see him locking the door. Fueled by his bottled-up aggression, Tommy beats the living daylights out of all three brothers. It’s then that he reflects on his father’s advice and concludes, “Sometimes you just have to fight to be a man.”
8. Buy Me a Rose (from “She Rides Wild Horses” album – 1999)
Kenny Rogers pulled a later-in-life career resurrection when he released the 1999 album “She Rides Wild Horses.” One of the songs that stands out in the album is “Buy Me a Rose.”The song tells the story of a man who’s trying really hard to impress his wife by buying her expensive gifts. However, as it turns out, impressing his wife is more uncomplicated than he thought. All he had to do was shower the wife with loving gestures. This song would get Kenny rogers back to the top of the charts, nearly a dozen years since he last graced one.
7. Daytime Friends ( from “Daytime Friends” album – 1977)
After many years of toiling around with various groups, Kenny would finally decide to fly solo. He would release his third solo album in 1977, and one of the songs that ended up topping charts is the eponymous track “Daytime Friends.” The track talks about a cheating couple. It’s about two couples, who are friends during the day, but they cheat on each other when night falls. This was Kenny Roger’s second song to become a number one country hit after embarking on his career as a solo artist.
6. Twenty Years Ago ( from the “They Don’t Make them Like they Used to” album – 1986)
Kenny Rogers is best known for his storytelling abilities. That, coupled with his gravelly voice, makes him one of the greatest narrators ever to grace the music scene. His most notable work includes “the Gambler,” the “Tomb of the Unknown Love,” and “the Factory,” to name a few. Adding to the list of his story songs is “Twenty Years Ago.” In this song, Kenny Rogers took us on a sentimental journey 20 years ago. He talks about how life was so much easier back then. But even more interesting is the chorus, which appears to resonate with almost anyone, regardless of age.
5. Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town (from the “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” Album – 1969)
Before going solo, Kenny Rogers was the lead singer for the group “the First edition.” Note that this is not the first group he forefronted. Mel Tillis wrote the song and would be Kenny’s first song ever to make it to country charts. Although the song only managed to peak to number 39, many still consider it one of Kenny Rogers’ finest tunes. The song tells a tragic love story, laced with a catchy beat and a chorus that just sticks with you.
4. We’ve Got Tonight (featuring Sheena Easton from the “We’ve Got Tonight” album – 1983)
Originally done by Bob Seger, Kenny Rogers teamed up with Sheena Easton to re-do a duet of the song. The song would become Kenny Rogers’s signature hit, climbing to number 1 in county charts and number 6 on the billboard 100 chart. Kenny also performed the song with Dolly Parton. In one of his interviews, Bob Seger admitted to giving Kenny permission to sing the song. He was touched that Kenny even wanted to sing it in the first place.
3. Sweet Music Man (from the “Daytime Friends” album – 1977)
Kenny would decide to go on a limb with this track by taking an entirely different approach – narrating the story from a woman’s perspective. Kenny tells the story of a woman who’s had enough watching his man give himself to every woman who throws themselves at him in his career. From his singer, it’s easy to tell Kenny must have had this experience first-hand. The story comes out perfect, capturing all the little details and emotions that go with it.
2. I Don’t Need You (from the “Share Your Love” album – 1981)
After his success with the song “Lucy” with Lionel Richie, Kenny decided Richie would produce his next album, “Share Your Love.” One of the songs that stood out in the album was “I Don’t Need You.” Initially, they had agreed that Richie would write all the songs on the album. However, they decided it would be best to accept songs from outside or have other people write some of the songs. “I Don’t Need You,” originally written by Rick Christian, was one of the songs they settled on – and which turned out to be a huge success.
1. Gambler (from the “The Gambler Album” – 1978)
This song has been unanimously voted in as Kenny Roger’s greatest song of all time. It’s a masterpiece, where each line has been perfected to flow into the next one perfectly, setting the stage for one of the catchiest Kenny Rogers choruses. As we said, people will still be singing to this song well into the 22nd century and far beyond. The song also established a persona for Kenny that would outlive any of us.