I Can Unlove You

I'm not ashamed to admit it; I don't like the music of Kenny Rogers. And his latest return to popular country music is so sentimental, dated and hokey that the single "I Can't Unlove You" sounds like a parody before it even finishes. Not to mention the obvious comparisons to the often humored "I wish I could quit you..." phrase from that movie from last year.

Few experiences can make you loathe the music of a songwriter more than having to learn how to play it and then perform, standing in uniform while 30 minutes of homecoming court is announced, a song certainly never meant for marching band. Although I was never very fond of Kenny's music before, performing "Lady" over and over on a cool night in the fall of 1986 pushed me over the edge. My lips burned, my arm hurt (I played the trombone after all; second chair) and I will never hear that song again without having to relive the repetitive agony.

Some may argue that "The Gambler" and "Lucille" are genuine country hits and therefore worthy of a little respect. I, however, have always found them timid attempts at capturing the real spit and bile of Waylon Jennings, George Jones and Johnny Cash. And while the late Mr. Cash and others have kept their fire late in their careers, Mr. Rogers moves to a style so saccharine that morning news programs fall over themselves to invite him to play.

And he has a new image, too. Gone are his signature beard and mullet; replaced with freshly colored / spiked hair and a goatee. Denim shirts have been cast aside for unbuttoned satin. And if his modern country image wasn't complete, he has added a leather string choker that dangles some unidentifiable symbol atop his unusually tanned chest.

But even with all that, there is one good Kenny Rogers experience I always think about when I hear his name. His was the chicken restaurant with the neon sign that drove Cosmo and Jerry crazy on Seinfeld. A funnier fast food addiction I'm not sure there has ever been and all because of Kenny.

-- an excerpt from I Can't Unlove You on Capital Records

I can't unthink about you
I can't unfeel your touch
I can't unhear all the words
Unsay all the things
That used to mean so much
I wish I could unremember
Everything my heart's been through
And finding out it's impossible to do
Oh, it's no use
I can't unlove you

Rusty, Apr 6 2006 8:26AM

It seems to me that this song is a tribute to Kenny's chicken itself. Years ago when the Kenny Rogers' Rosters around Vanderbilt University in Nashville closed its doors, their was a public outcry for its return. I still vividly remember the soaped windows of the building beckoning "Kenny come back!!", "We love you Kenny!", "We need your sweet greasy yet tender touch!!" (Okay, I made that last one up.)

Sadly, Kenny did not return. Is there a similar story in your past Mark? Does this sudden strike against Kenny have to do with something larger than music? Something plump and juicy with coleslaw and baked beans on the side? I think so...

Tommy, Apr 11 2006 1:10PM

Now don't forget 'Coward of the County'. I loved that song in 4th grade. Not that it's enough to forgive the torture of 'Lady' ad infinitum.

mark, Apr 11 2006 7:10PM

i apologize for my omission, tommy. however, this new info does not change my position.

and rusty, it looks like a lot of kenny rogers roasters fans shared the experience of your aforementioned nashvillians. a quick googling finds that nathan's famous hotdogs acquired what's left of kenny's chicken chain. number of franchises left: 1 in california.

kenny come back, indeed.