Sunday, October 29, 2023

Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 12

There was another two-week Number One this week in 1983, the fourth and final time that happened that year. On October 29, 1983, "Islands in the Stream" (above—about which more in a minute), a duet by US artists Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton became the new Number One. The song, written by the BeeGees, was the first single from Rogers' fifteenth studio album, Eyes That See in the Dark.

What makes this song unusual for this series of posts is that there doesn’t appear to have ever been an official music video. The video above is a 2005 reunion for Rogers and Parton, part of a special broadcast by CMT as part of a special because its viewers had voted "Islands in the Stream" as the best country duet of all time. It was the first time they’d performed together in 15 years, apparently, and both had definitely aged since the song was released in 1983. Rogers died on March 20, 2020, aged 81, after years of declining health. Dolly Parton continues to be an American national treasure.

This song, like most of Kenny Rogers' songs, sits uneasily for me. At the time, I wasn’t exactly a fan of Rogers, even if I didn’t mind most of his songs—but I absolutely loathed his 1979 hit, ”Coward of the County”, mainly because I felt it glorified men “proving” they’re men through violence, as summed up in the line, "sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man." I mention that because it underscores that I wasn’t a fan (I was more of a fan of Dolly).

As it happens, I liked this song well enough—not enough to buy it, but I also didn’t change the radio when it came on, which for that era is pretty good. However, that song, and others by Kenny Rogers, are now unalterably tied to my memories of Nigel singing karaoke. He did this song sometimes in duet with someone, and often sang Rogers’ 1978 hit, ”The Gambler”. I don’t mind hearing Rogers’ versions, but hearing others sing them at karaoke has been a challenge for me in the past. Songs can easily carry strong emotional associations that have nothing much to do with the song itself, and, for me, that includes at least some of Rogers’ songs.

"Islands in the Stream" reached Number One in Australia (Platinum), Number One in Canada (3x Platinum), 2 in New Zealand, 7 in the UK (2x Platinum), and Number One on the USA’s “Billboard Hot 100” and “Hot Country Songs” charts, as well as Number One on Cash Box; it was certified 3x Platinum in the USA.

Back in two weeks, on November 12, with another new Number One from 1983, the penultimate Number One song for the year.

Previously in the “Weekend Diversion – 1983” series:

Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 1
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 2
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 3
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 4
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 5
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 6
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 7
Weekend Diversion: 1983 – And also
Weekend Diversion: 1983 – And also more
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 8
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 9
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 10
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 11


Roger Owen Green said...

You DO know how much I love the word penultimate. It's not as good as antepenultimate, but still pretty darn good!

Arthur Schenck said...

I do indeed. Perhaps I can use your favourite in a future series—though it has to be one where I know how many posts there will be before I get that far. Hm…

Arthur Schenck said...

Well, it turns out that, thanks to the fact I forgot to share this post to the AmeriNZ Facebook Page last night, I could seize an opportunity…