Kenny Rogers is amazing for the fact that he has had so many opportunities to indulge in outlandish, decadent, completely fucked experiences. He's been making music for over fifty years, traveled countless countries, collaborated with almost everyone awesome in the modern music canon, whipped through a whopping five marriages, has something like two dozen "legit" kids—yet he has zero interesting stories. Luck reads as if it were penned by a hybrid of a writer for MTA's subway ads, a writer for Sky Mall product descriptions, and a person who just learned English. I applaud him for his command of tried-and-true idioms, his mastery of the children's thesaurus, and his beard (which I'm sure if given the chance to write its face's story would have done a much more impressive job). In describing his mother Lucille, a gruff, no-nonsense, loving woman, he wrote: "Some of her sayings were those that she'd heard over the years; others were ones she made up herself." Oh, Patsi.
Rogers hints at a slew of insightful, engaging anecdotes, but only toes the edge of intrigue. He doesn't really dive into his stint as part of the high school cheerleading squad, or another time he tripped on psilocybin (a drug Kenny calls "hard") and listened to Cat Stevens' "Sad Lisa" for 16 hours straight. Hell, he even let his publishers talk him into omitting the chapter on his botchy plastic surgery, according to Fox News. Instead, the stories he finds worthwhile in immortalizing include that one in which he briefly challenged a TV station on the name of his western flick Rio Diablo. Those three paragraphs of drama and anticipation… snooze.
At least he takes a second to mention the early '90s, relatively vanilla sex scandal. During his divorce from Wife No. Gazillion, he said, "At that point in my life, I enjoyed talking to beautiful, alluring women on the phone… I mean, this was to be the ultimate 'safe sex' for me. This was never about physical contact, just erotic and sexually explicit messages left on a limited-access phone line that was always solicited by the other parties, and remember, I wasn't doing this with random people I have met. These were friend's of friends and I trust them."
He met these two women once in Dallas, only to get screwed over in a not fun way when one handed the tapes to gossip magazines. But that's as saucy as the book gets and for that I am simultaneously disappointed and relieved. However, he packs the book with nuggets of bonafide advice and wisdom, including:
"If you aren't supposed to be using a cell phone in a movie theater, then don't use it."
"You know, Kenny, there's a fine line between being driven and being selfish."
"If you want to make friends, just try [traveling by Greyhound] sometime. You have no choice."
"This [music] business is mountain climbing. You don't just go to the top and stay there. Sooner or later, you've got to come back down."
"But jazz is kind of an elitist music and not the most commercial."
He has revealing moments constantly throughout the book of his drab Crayola brain activity. The man calls comedian Gallagher "truly funny," going so far as to claim, "I found this guy to be one of the most engaging, thought-provoking people I've ever met."
The rolling roster of talented folks with whom Rogers has shared intimate, creative, and otherwise moments is jaw-dropping. On meeting Elvis and receiving a personal invitation to catch The King's live show, Kenny wrote: "Needless to say I was thrilled, and needless to say I did." I need to know who Rogers' ghostwriter for this book was and how to contact this genius con(wo)man. The person behind the inevitably fat pay check is a fucking master of chicanery who should be touring journalism and English undergrad programs across the country, sharing his/her secrets.
His most famous famous friend coupling is, duh, of course the perma-buxom Dolly Parton. After finishing Luck, I am now certain of Rogers' and Parton's blip of a romantic past. It's like he always wanted to take Dolly to Bonesville but she got the feeling not so much. Perhaps once while wastey on Kenny's yacht, he (consentually) put the D in the P. And for that, Dolly's shame sadly drove her forever away from the booze. I'm also guessing they continued their relationship as a shriveled-up, sexless creative collaborators, perhaps held upright by Kenny's perma-woodie.
He mentions other famous friends, too, underlining his specialness, including incessant yawn tales co-starring close buddy Lionel Richie. The book even includes a few glossy photo pages, most prominently one of Rogers and Richie in short tennis shorts I challenge you to unsee.
Other highlights: Kenny once had a horse named, for unknown reasons, Borraabby. He eventually donated it to help raise money for "children with special needs" snagging $75,000 and making me hate everything. The singer also loves the crap out of photography. He uses his celebrity and sky-high towers of doubloons to afford such lavish experiences as shooting Michael Jackson's pet chimp, and helicoptering around British Columbian wilderness for "unique photographic opportunities. He fucking hates cilantro, but that didn't stop him from using a shitload in a salad for one of his weird, decadent cooking parties in his Las Vegas home with his childbride. Said cooking parties get the full detail treatment, taking up five full pages to say absolutely nothing. In an effort to mix up his classic Christmas show, he banded with a buddy to develop an incredibly strange, painful one-act play about toys coming to life. The Toy Shoppe stars—among many others—an especially fucked up gimp doll called Mr. Perfect with the following poem on the back of his wooden, useless body, "All are even in the eyes of God / Some get better starts. / But it's those who have the least on Earth, / Who are closest to his heart."
Rogers developed country boy band Marshall Dyllon in 2000—one I apparently missed circa age 11. The book cites Lou Perlman as a fan, something Kenny says of which, "They were that good. The rest is tabloid history. Need I say more?" And with that last hunk of text comes the most rapid-fire example of Kenny's impressive cliche repertoire. All in all, from reading Kenny Rogers' Luck Or Something Like It I did glean a few things. 1. Self-shame. I now feel more than a little ashamed for purchasing a Wyclef Jean LP in high school solely for this remix of "The Gambler." 2. Disappointment in famous, potentially interesting people who clam up. The only reason the book isn't just a quick brochure is because it's stuffed with fluff. Not unlike a fourth grader trying to hit a word count minimum in his reflections journal, most of this book says nothing. I refuse to believe Kenny Rogers had such a fucking boring life. 3. Regret in my means of research. My Spotify history will now be tarnished for months with First Edition ranking No. 1. 4. Sympathy for Patsi Bale Cox. She tried. 5. Kenny Rogers isn't the worst. He came from the projects and worked his ass of to have a celebrated, long-running musical career. He forks over major dough to various charities (whether or not he has much idea of what they actually do) and seems to love the crap out of his army of offspring and fans.