Hidden Gem: Kenny Rogers ‘There’s An Old Man In Our Town’
'Isn't he the guy that used to be with the First Edition?'
Kenny Rogers is a country music legend, was one of it's greatest entertainers and a deserving member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
But in 1976, that was the question a lot of country music fans were asking when Kenny released his first 'country' solo album. As the leader of 'Kenny Rogers and the First Edition', he was known worldwide by pop and rock fans. In fact, they had a crossover hit with the Mel Tillis penned 'Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town'. So he wasn't totally unknown to country fans, but at that time he sure wasn't Merle Haggard, Charley Pride or Conway Twitty!
I was a young guy working at KWYR radio in Winner, S.D. when we got the album in at the station. 'Love Lifted Me', the title cut, had been released as a single and was doing OK. It didn't sweep the country music world, but it was OK. It certainly didn't prepare us for what was to come, massive country hit's (and some some of the greatest country classic's ever) like 'Lucille', 'Coward of the County', 'Love Will Turn You Around' and of course, 'The Gambler'.
I remember putting that album on a turntable at the station (yes, turntable...I'm old, I know, I know) and was struck by one song in particular, one song that stuck with me all these years later. Its one of those songs that I can still sing (thankfully, just to myself) word for word. And it wasn't a hit single, it was just the final song on the album.
Two things about the song: 1) I think this is one of the very best songs I've ever heard Kenny Rogers sing. It will never be remembered along with his classic's, but a great song isn't always popular, for whatever reason. And 2) Kenny wrote it. He didn't write a lot of songs, at least isn't known for it. But he wrote this.
Give it a listen and see if you don't agree that 'There's An Old Man In Our Town' is a Kenny Rogers Hidden Gem.