Kenny’s first-ever autobiography, Luck or Something Like It, releases on October 2, 2012! Kenny wants to thank you for your unending support “through the years” by offering an exclusive preview excerpt from the book to his fan community. This exclusive sneak peek is available only to those who are directly connected to Kenny through his social networks.
I was staying on the outskirts of Nashville, working on some new song ideas in my hotel, when I received a call from Larry Butler. Now, you may not know Larry’s name, but you know his work. He was the legendary producer behind the some of the greatest hits of yours truly, Johnny Cash, John Denver, and countless more. You got a call from Larry Butler, you listened.
Larry told me that a young lady by the name of Linda Ronstadt was interested in revisiting country music, and would I be interested in a duet. Now at that time, I had just begun a very strong relationship with Jesus Christ. Marriage and children were on the horizon. Yes, I had experimented with the “hippie” lifestyle in my First Edition days. We all had at that time. But it was time for me to settle down and begin crafting songs that communicated what has become the central message of my life: family comes first. Linda had a set of pipes on her, but all I knew about her as a person was a story Johnny Cash told me backstage at his TV show when I’d performed a medley of “Ruby” and “Reuben James” with the gang. Linda had come on Johnny’s show to sing in a very short, very sheer dress, and well– let’s just say a certain young lady had forgotten to add her unmentionables to the day’s wardrobe. The stagehands, the lighting crew, the mike technician and countless others had gotten a very good idea of what the good Lord gave Ms. Ronstadt for her lawful wedded husband to enjoy. And the sight had almost made it on the air until Johnny himself borrowed a pair of June Carter’s spare chonies backstage for Linda to wear.
When Johnny had chided her for it, Linda just laughed. So she had a golden voice, but we had a bit of a “free spirit” on our hands.
But that voice. Who was I to say “no.” Larry told me Linda would like to host me for dinner and talk about song ideas, and it just so happened she lived just a few miles from the hotel. I hopped in my truck and headed over. Right away as I pulled up the driveway I felt self-conscious– parked in front of the imposing manor house were gleaming Rolls Royces, Mercedes, B. M. Dubyas– I’m just an ole Texas boy at heart and my beat up F150’s good enough for me, but it sure did feel strange parking Lucille next to those fancy rides.
Then I noticed that Linda had some unusual decorating taste. All around the trim of the house and in sculptures in the yard, there was what you might call a “pastoral” theme– goats being led to some special farm event by a strange shepherd in a robe. Fair enough. Maybe something Biblical. Lutheran. “Ronstadt” sounded German.
My architectural concerns vanished however when who should answer the door but the lady herself, Miss Dolly Parton. Now Dolly and I hadn’t collaborated at that point, but I knew her a little from touring scene and always admired her unparalleled singing and her brassy attitude. Dolly truly was what she presented to the world. As she gave me her biggest “HEYYYY, KENNY,” I knew I was in for a fun night.
Dolly led me back to the dining room and there was Linda Ronstadt setting out some canapés— that’s a fancy word for “food on little toasts,” for you back home folks. She lit up with the biggest smile and just gave me a warm sweet hug. It was a hot night, which must have been why she was wearing not much more than a little white shift. Very affectionate girl. I’ll admit, it was hard to look away from this beautiful, glowing young woman. But I cleared my throat and she got the message. She let go and went to the kitchen to get some wine.
We sat down to a delicious home cooked meal, just the three of us. Let me tell you: if Linda hadn’t broken big with the Stone Poneys, you’d be reading about her career as a master chef. I had all kinds of questions about Dolly’s latest work, and especially what kind of collaboration I could look forward to with Linda, but– they kept steering our talk back toward me. The wine was flowing and they asked me about my childhood. Did I ever feel that I was special, they asked. Different than other people. Well shucks, you know if you read this far that I’m just an ordinary boy from an ordinary home, but I did have to let slip the story about the comet over Houston the night I was born. Lit up the whole night sky, and everybody felt it was good luck except that terrified old gypsy woman, bless her heart. The two gals just locked eyes when they heard this– I thought I must have been boring them to tears, but they wanted more. Told them about the business with the three headed calf with dozens of eyes that was birthed in my neighbor’s field under that funny color moon, how my mother always kept the newspaper clipping from that night. Not exactly good dinner conversation but as I say, Linda had brought a couple fine bottles from her extensive wine cellar and it would have been rude to refuse.
Well the main course was cleared and dessert was served and I must tell you it was a real pleasure being in the company of these two beautiful ladies in a slight haze of Bordeaux, but I did feel we better start to get talking songs or I was going to have to turn in for the night. But Linda came out of the kitchen with a fancy bottle, some foreign thing with a sculpture of a snake cut right into the glass. Kenny, you can’t say no to just one— and pardon me if I can’t spell this fancy French word– “aperiteef.” It was a liqueur flown in special from South America somewhere. Dolly just got the biggest smile when she saw it, said it was from a disciple of Carlos Castaneda, whoever that is. Sounds like it would go good with guacamole. But Linda looked right into my eyes and poured me just a little cup; didn’t even take one herself, just her and Dolly looking at me very intently. The way a dog looks at you when you eat a pork chop.
Well I raised the glass to my lips and took a sip and that’s when things started to get real funny. The room took on a much warmer light, and I suddenly became very aware of Linda’s lips. The dark lipstick she was wearing. Like the dark ocean under a sunset. Her body, impossible not to notice in that sheer slip; the curves of her skin. A few beads of dew around her eyes as she stared, stared deeply into mine; her dark eyes… so black…
Well I must have had more than I thought to drink because when I woke up I was lying right there on that dining room table! There were candelabras all around, and Dolly had changed into her night clothes, some kind of black robe. There was another fella in the room too– hard to see his face because as a hat he was wearing some kind of giant goat skull. Hunting souvenir maybe. Voices were singing, but it wasn’t any Stone Poneys; very deep, kind of a Bing Crosby range, but in a language I couldn’t understand. I know a little Español but this sounded more like Hungarian played backwards and run through a desolate cave for miles from the center of the Earth while the singer was being flayed alive. There was smoke– burning myrrh, balsam… and also cruel and wicked desert herbs. A lone crow perched on Linda’s gold record for “Different Drum,” regarding me hungrily. And Linda. Linda, crawling onto my body; I was naked but for a white robe. I felt her warm thighs slithering on to mine, an electricity in my loins. Folks, this is embarrassing to tell you but it felt like my old manhood was about to crawl right out of its skin. Her musk. That smell, I will never forget. The musk of a woman, but tinged with pain, like if the tears of a mother watching her child die had a smell. Her murmuring, moaning, in that golden voice. The ceiling was alive in spirals and colors and turned into a giant eye with fire; I felt myself go into her, like my body was falling into her off a cliff over a black churning sea miles below; the warm wet wind holding me up, my skin straining; her hips moving, her grasping me, clenching around me, asking me for my seed. The world went black and there were stars and– forgive me, folks, Latin isn’t my strong suit– nebulae, and she grasped me with her warm wet womanhood and something in my soul broke and I emptied into her, pumping and pumping and pumping my life into that black sea until I felt like there was nothing else inside of me; writhing and shuddering and trying to scream but Dolly’s white bosoms were on top of my mouth, smothering, and in that high Tennessee twang I heard her say “milk from Mama.” Something flowed out of her into my mouth, something like honey, and then flowed through me, through my root, into Linda’s belly. I looked around for a way out and all I saw was the goat man, under his mask, laughing. His eyes in the skull sockets wry and knowing. Then I was empty. Shaking. I felt like the husk of a leaf and all of them just laughed. Linda, Dolly, and the goat man, all laughing at my tiny uncurling nakedness.
I came to on the couch, and looked up. The goat man was standing over me, regarding me solemnly in his mask. I opened my mouth to scream but he put his finger to my lips and reached for the skull. He pulled it back. Slowly… slowly. A dark face. And it was….
Lionel Ritchie from the Commodores! Lionel, I have never been so happy to see a friend in my life, you old dog you. What on Earth are you doing here? Lionel had a big ole chuckle in that way he has and said: sorry, Kenny. Didn’t mean to spook you. We just have… a certain way of doing things. How about I walk you back to Lucille and we talk a little music on the way?
Three months after that, we cut “Lady.” Twelve platinum records, and the first record of the 1980’s to hit number one on all four Billboard singles charts. The rest, as they say, is history.
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-Kenny Rogers Online Team
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