“Lucille” by Kenny Rogers
“Lucille” is another one of those Kenny Rogers’ storytelling pieces which in a lot of ways defined late-20th century country music. The listener is not burdened with having to interpret highfalutin allegories or metaphors. Rather the narrative presented is about straightforward as they get.
And in this case, the scene is set inside of a barroom. The singer spies an attractive lady whom he can see is in fact married but at the same time “took off her ring”, signifying that she is willing to mingle. So he proceeds to step to her, this being the titular Lucille. And in the midst of their conversation, a large man approaches, that being her husband. Accordingly the singer is under the impression that he is about to get his behind kicked. But rather the husband starts beefing with Lucille for her being an absentee mother and wife.
However, after making his case the husband leaves, as he is convinced that Lucille’s case is an irresolvable one. Then the singer and Lucille pretty much pick up where they left off before being interrupted. And eventually they find their way, boozed, into a hotel room. The singer has every opportunity to sleep with her and does find her attractive alright. But the words her husband spoke kept playing in his head, and he was unable to do so.
So this is an interesting track, to say the least. It definitely isn’t a love song, nor does it read as a tirade against irresponsible motherhood per se. Indeed it has been said that the story behind it is based on one of its co-writers’ own issues with a troubled marriage and infidelity. But at the end of the day, it can be concluded that the silver lining in it all is that said writer was able to turn those less-than-favorable realities into a hit song via Kenny Rogers.
Facts about “Lucille”
Kenny has had many hits, but in the eyes of many this was perhaps his signature tune, as made evident by the number of references to this song upon his passing. It came relatively early in his solo career, being featured on his sophomore-individual album which itself is entitled “Kenny Rogers”. In fact Lucille was Roger’s first notable hit of his post-The First Edition days.
For instance, the track earned Mr. Rogers a number one on the UK Singles Chart, Canada Top Singles and Billboard’s Hot Country Songs. It also peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and overall charted in over 10 nations, breaking the top 10 of their charts in virtually every case.
“Lucille” also earned Kenny Rogers a 1977 Grammy Award in the category of Best Country Vocal Performance. And it also won a couple of CMAs in 1977, one for Single of the Year granted to Kenny Rogers and the other for Song of the Year (Songwriter’s Award), which was given to the two men who wrote it.
Interesting to note is that Kenny Rogers’ own mother’s name was Lucille. And upon hearing this song, she actually thought it was about her. However, amongst assuring her that it wasn’t, Kenny pointed out that he did not actually pen it. Rather it was written by Roger Bowling and Hal Bynum. In fact the premise of the song is said to have actually been inspired by situations surrounding Bynum’s married life at time. And according to his own explanation of its origin, he wrote “Lucille” after a chance meeting with a blind busker. (However, there are contrary reports which say that Kenny himself conceptualized the tune.)
And the track was produced by Larry Butler, who worked extensively with Kenny during the years he was under United Artists Records.
And it was in fact United Artists who released “Lucille” on 24th January 1977.