Back in the late seventies and early eighties, you didn’t have to look like a boy to be a heartthrob: you could look like Kenny Rogers and do just fine. At his peak, Kenny sported an all-white southern gentleman get-up or velvet jackets on stage, where he casually prowled, holding his microphone with its lead, delivering hit after hit to screaming fans. He was just forty years old, though prematurely white-haired, and onto his fourth marriage. He had not yet become the walking punch line of a plastic surgery joke, so could still convey actual warmth and emotion with his face. He still looked like Kenny Rogers.
While Kenny had his share of truly romantic love songs to his credit, (LIKE THIS) there remains a part of his musical legacy littered with horribly dysfunctional characters.
Take Lucille, for a start. She can be found in a bar in Toledo, pining for a more exciting life and flirting with strangers. She could care less that her husband makes a desperate plea for her to return to him and her four abandoned children in front of the men she’s drinking with, and when he leaves, she goes to a hotel room in order to have sex with a guy she’s just met and with whom she hasn’t said much. The joke’s on her, however, because her suitor can’t get it up, haunted as he is by her husband’s humiliation. Bros before hos, Dude.
Lucille was also the name of Kenny’s mother.
And then there’s Ruby, whose husband, a paralyzed and impotent Vietnam veteran, is forced to beg her not to leave him at home, unable to move, while she goes out to get her sexual needs met in town. He wishes he could shoot her dead, but he can’t pick up a gun. She couldn't care less. That’s romance, right there.
Of course there’s the woman who appears to be a serial adulterer in “Daytime Friends, Nighttime Lovers.” We’re not told why she feels the need to stray, but of all people she chooses to cheat with, she picks her husband’s best friend! She can’t understand why her husband can’t appreciate her need for someone else while blithely carrying on in secret. They don’t want to hurt “the others,” so they conduct their affair after dark (like that’s never been done before).
While Lucille, Ruby and Mrs. Affair do their men wrong, Tommy, AKA the Coward of the County, does his woman wrong. While he is out at work, the Gatlin boys (all three of them) gang rape his true love, Becky. He avenges her ruination by instigating a bar brawl, knocking down those pesky rapist Gatlin boys. But that’s all he does. Presumably they all get up and go on home as if nothing happened.
Whatever you do, don’t fall in love with a dreamer. A phone call always comes and beckons him away, very conveniently. He’s only good for one night at a time, as the thought of committing to more than that leaves him cold. He keeps his woman hanging on for years and keeps leaving the next day, breaking her every time.