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i spent the night with...

liz lamoreux

kenny rogers.

so here is a little secret about me. i love kenny rogers. i love him in an i-loved-singing-his-songs-into-my-fisher-price-cassette-recorder-as-a-little-girl kind of way. i was probably two or three when i started singing, "oh ruuuuuby... don't take your love to town." and one of my favorite lyrics of all times comes from "coward of the county," "...but you could of heard a pin drop when tommy stopped and locked the door." the dramatic pauses in that line just make my heart happy. i have seen every kenny rogers made-for -tv movie. yes, i have. and i bet i am not alone. but coward of the county is the only one i have on tape somewhere. i love that movie.

tonight, my husband was excited to show me this on vh1.com (you can see videos online at this site). When our new paper delivery person didn't get the morning paper here in time for jon to read it before school, he started watching vh1 and mtv while eating breakfast - going back to his high school 80s days. there are a few favorite videos he wanted to share with me. i am kind of take it or leave it with videos. i love listening to music, but i don't always enjoy sitting and watching videos for a long period of time. but this was fun! and you can search for so many artists on this site. so yes, i searched for kenny rogers and enjoyed some old-school kenny videos. this led me to iTunes to share some of my favorite kenny songs with jon. which led me to download this, his twenty greatest hits.

i probably saw my first kenny rogers concert when i was three, and we went again and again throughout my childhood. i saw him with dottie west, crystal gayle, the gatlin brothers, gallagher (yes, that comedian with the exploding watermelon), ronnie milsap, and maybe a few others.

some of my favorite memories involving kenny

...my mother, father, and i are walking from the car to the ACC at Notre Dame (the basketball arena where concerts are held). my dad picks me up so i can ride on his shoulders. i am probably four. A tour bus pulls in. yes. oh yes. it is kenny. the back windows weren't tinted like they are now, and he is sitting in the back with the curtain open. he waves to me. to me! i remember giggling with delight and marveling later that the man singing all those songs i love waved at me. he knows who i am.

...i am visiting my grandparents. i am probably six. it is time for my grandfather to take the garbage to the dump, and that means one-on-one time with him in the car. i get to ride up front and help him. he starts singing, "you picked a fine time to leave me lucille" and adds words of his own. and i say, "no, no grandpa, that's not how the song goes." on other trips he will start singing and say, "now, who sings better me or that other guy?" the little girl inside me remembers just reveling in this attention. feeling amazement that my grandpa really thought he could sing as good as kenny. we laugh about this still.

...a few weeks before fourth grade, the summer of 1985. and my mom, my brother, my aunt, cousin, and i are all driving from indiana to south carolina for a family reunion. kenny is on the tape player singing "fighting fire with fire." you might not know this one, but at 10, i knew all the words. one line made my mother pause, turn her head around to the backseat (she was driving), and say, "do you know what that means?" the line: "any place he touches or kisses diana, is someplace i've already been." ahhh...no, i didn't so much know what that meant then.

...boarding school. over a weekend at home i find a pin that says: "i spent the night with kenny rogers." if you knew my parents you might find this to be kind of odd - how old was i when they bought that for me? i wear it as my kilt pin throughout my senior year. hiding it from the powers-at-be because it was definitely "non-reg" and not part of the wardrobe. could i have been any cooler with that pin? goody-two-shoes liz with her scandalous kilt pin.

...my wedding reception. i don't throw the bouquet. instead i present it to the couple who has been married the longest. my grandparents. fifty-seven years. and then i dance with my grandpa; jon dances with my grandma. the song. kenny singing "Always" by Irving Berlin. a favorite song of mine. a way to blend the sentiments of this song - love between my grandparents, my love for them, my love for jon - and the memories of kenny and my grandpa singing. this gave us one of the best moments of the evening. if i close my eyes, i can see the look of bewilderment, embarassment, pride, and love on my grandmother's face as i share with our guests how much she and my grandpa mean to me. the tears of joy as jon and i walk over to them and give her the bouquet. jon takes her hand. my grandpa takes mine. i hear my grandpa's laughter as i say, "grandpa, can you tell who is singing this song?"

and tonight, as i listen to these songs, i am reminded of words i have known for over 25 years. part of the soundtrack of my childhood. some words resonate with me even more now. other words make me giggle as i join kenny in a duet. a few words bring tears to my eyes. all of these words invite me to sing and sing and sing. tonight i wrap myself up in the memories of these songs...the words swirl around me...and i feel at peace. it has been a good life so far.