Kenny Rogers Week, part 1 - Lessons from the Salt & Pepper Serenader

For those of you who didn't guess what my theme would be this week based on my clues (which is probably somewhere between all of you and all of you...unless you're my little sister), that's right.

It's Kenny Rogers week here at Novels During Naptime.

I want to start by saying that I was not raised on the velvet vocals of Kenny Rogers. My parents were more of the Bob Dylan, Mamas & the Papas, and Peter, Paul & Mary ilk. But my husband was. Oh. My husband was. Like "only seven year-old boy in a sea of Kenny t-shirt-wearing, tambourine-clanging middle-aged women at a concert" was. And on a recent road trip with my in-laws, we listened to almost nothing but Kenny Rogers. For 14 hours. More on that in a later post.

Which brings me to why I'm doing this series. He is now the Pea's favorite singer. Yes. That Kenny Rogers.

And I've realized, after listening to Blaze of Glory more times in the last month than I'd care to count or admit, there are some excellent writing lessons to be gleaned from Kenny. Yes. That Kenny Rogers.

Let's start off by discussing voice. And I'm not just talking about his sultry, gravelly vocal chords. Think of a Kenny Rogers song. You have one? I can almost guarantee you that the song that just came to your mind was a toe-tapping sing-along. That you can sing for several lines...and several more...and then you realize you're singing about sex. And not just any sex. Either sweet, sweet love with the lady of your dreams. Or sweet, sweet love with a lady who's about to leave you. Or who you're about to leave.

Except The Gambler. But that's going to get a post all to itself. 

And Reuben James. Which is a fluke. 

And others which I'm sure you closet Kenny fanatics will bring up.

My point is this. Do all Kenny Rogers songs sound the same? No. Can you tell every Kenny Rogers song is a Kenny Rogers song? Yes. Do you want your 3 year-old singing the lyrics to We've Got Tonight in the checkout line at Target at the top of his lungs? No. You do not. But will people recognize it as a Kenny Rogers song? Yes. They'll also recognize you as a bad mother.

I've been thinking about my voice a lot lately. And voice envy. When I read certain authors that I adore, I find myself wishing I could write more _____. Like them. But that wouldn't be me. It wouldn't be my voice. 

If I sat down and tried to write a Kenny Rogers song, it would come out sounding like Let's Hear It For The Boy. And if I sat down and tried to write a Hunger Games, Katniss would probably end up snogging with Peeta halfway through and booting President Snow in the head at the end.

Up tomorrow: Islands in the Stream--a Love Song to my Crit Partners


  1. That's funny about your 3-year-old singing in the checkout line. (I'm assuming this actually happened to you.) I'm a huge Pink Floyd fan and when my daughter was about the same age she belted out "We don't need no education" in the middle of Target, earning me the same bad mother label. ;)

    Interesting about voice. I recently had a discussion with my husband about how the best and most memorable bands have a very specific sound and feel to their music, even though their songs don't really sound the same. Never would've thought to apply it to writing, but it makes perfect sense. Great post!

    And now I'm going to have The Gambler in my head for the rest of the day...

  2. lol! I am so with you about the Hunger Games, good thing Suzanne Collins wrote it! :)

  3. Too much Fun!!!!!

    I can't wait for tomorrow. When I was little my mom played Islands in the Stream for hours upon hours at a time!