Monday, October 29, 2007

Kenny Rogers and The First Edition

This treasure is currently in the running for my favorite YouTube video of all time. It features a young dark-haired Kenny Rogers fronting a full band, The First Edition, WHILE PLAYING BASS! I thought Kenny always had white hair, so that makes this view of the 1972 34-year old Mr. Rogers all the more remarkable. And to top it all, this is a great tune called "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" originally written by Mel Tillis. After The First Edition split in 1975, Kenny went on to achieve 25 Number 1 singles as a solo artist.

The origin of the song is as follows:
The song is about a disabled, dying veteran of "that old crazy Asian war" (the Korean War), who begs his lover not to cheat on him. Tillis based the song on a 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 had 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. Tillis changed the war to the more recent Korean War in the song, and departed from the ending that happened in real life: the man killed his wife in a murder-suicide. This is however alluded to in the song, with the singer avowing, "If I could move I'd get my gun and put her in the ground. Wikipedia
More information on The First Edition can be found here

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