Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Luck or Something Like It by Kenny Rogers

Luck or Something Like It
by Kenny Rogers
Release Date: October 4th, 2012
2012 William Morrow
Hardcover Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-207181-1
Genre: Non-fiction
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3.5 Stars

For more than half a century, Kenny Rogers has been recording some of the most revered and beloved music in America and around the world. In that time, he has become a living legend by combining everything from R&B to country and gospel to folk in his unique voice to create a sound that's both wholly original and instantly recognizable.

Now, in his first-ever memoir, Kenny details his lifelong journey to becoming one of American music's elder statesmen—a rare talent who's created hit records for decades while staying true to his values as a performer and a person. Exploring the struggles of his long road, his story begins simply: growing up in Depression-era Texas, living in the projects, surviving in poverty, and listening to his mother, who always had just the right piece of wisdom.

Staring across the decades, Kenny writes a story seemingly straight from one of his songs. The end result is a rollicking ride through fifty years of music history, which offers a heartwarming testament to a time when country music wasn't just a brand but a way of life.

My Thoughts
I have been a long-time fan of Kenny Rogers and jumped on the chance to review this memoir when the opportunity presented itself.  With a mom as a country music fan, I can remember singing to his music as a young child and I was always fascinated by his songs and the stories they told.  I even found a collection of his songs on Youtube and treated myself to a trip down memory lane as I was reading his memoir.  Unfortunately, while I found his memoir to be interesting and quite enjoyed it, I was disappointed as I felt it only moderately scratched the surface of what I now perceive to be a quite fascinating and quite brilliant career.

There were some pretty fascinating moments in this memoir, such as his work with Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie on "We Are the World", his duets with Dottie West, his work with Dolly Parton, and his partnership with Lionel Richie, but I found the information to be superficial, something I could have found on Wikipedia if I had taken the time to hunt it down, and what I wanted was something a bit deeper, what it REALLY felt like to work with these legends of song.  Can you imagine that Kenny Rogers actually sat down several times with Elvis Presley and it was only casually mentioned in his memoirs?  And what was it REALLY like to work with all of these legends on "We Are the World"? To be fair, Mr. Rogers did mention quite clearly in the Author's Note that his friend Patsi Bale Cox, who was instrumental in getting this memoir off the ground, died of lung cancer in the middle of the project, which could be why it has that feeling of being rushed and incomplete.  

I also enjoyed learning about his family and those moments of his childhood that shaped his life.  As a memoir, I felt like a lot of information was kept hidden, probably due to protect the individuals involved, but it would have been nice to learn a bit more about his children and their childhoods as very little was revealed and I don't feel like I learned anything about them other than what would be gleaned off any internet site.  

I did enjoy learning about a lot of the charity works he has been involved in and a lot of the other interesting things that he has done with his life.  That was quite fascinating as I don't think I really knew about the tennis, the photography, and some of the other interests that drive Mr. Rogers in his more private life.  And I am absolutely amazed at the longevity of his career.  I know he is coming to my area in January for two shows, and both of these shows have been completely sold out now for months.  And this past summer, as we were doing a sing-a-long around the campfire, what songs came up that everyone knew and belted out at the top of their lungs?  You guessed it.  "The Gambler" and "Coward of the County".  And some of these folks, by the way, are die-hard 'rockers' who would never admit to being country fans.  And there they were belting out these tunes along with the rest of us.  

Luck or Something Like It was an enjoyable look at the life and singing career of a very remarkable man.  While I found it to be somewhat superficial, he does open up about some things, such as the phone sex scandal, but remains very closed about other aspects of his life that probably would have been quite interesting.  I would thoroughly love to see a sequel, one that captures a bit more of Mr. Rogers himself, and delves a little deeper into his thoughts and perceptions about those around him and the legends he has had the privilege of working with.     




  1. Good review!

    Of his work, I'd probably only know the Gambler well enough.