Jun 08

KENNY ROGERS – “Lucille”

FT + Popular73 comments • 4,224 views

#406, 18th June 1977

For a long time all I knew of “Lucille” was the mournful swing of its chorus, and it struck me as quintessential country – catchy, corny, sentimental. Listened to in full, though, it’s a stranger creature, an uncomfortably unresolved study in being a minor character, the intruder in someone else’s drama. Rogers is a barfly with his sights on a pick-up who ends up hearing both Lucille’s side of her story and a snatch of her ex’s, and is left confused and (literally and metaphorically!) impotent.

Who’s the listener meant to sympathise with? Is Lucille untrustworthy? Is her husband’s collapse emotional blackmail? I get the feeling Rogers is probably not on Lucille’s side, but the songwriting is skilled enough to leave it open, and the impression that lingers is of Rogers’ own character, his detachment shaken by fear and doubt.

Unfortunately Rogers’ smooth-as-polished-wood delivery can bring out whatever pathos lives in the song, but none of its doubt or darkness, so I have to concentrate pretty hard not to let “Lucille” just wash over me. It’s a more interesting song than it seems, but not a better one.



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  1. 61
    DJ Punctum on 16 Jun 2008 #

    Tom, did you have to show the driver which way to go?


  2. 62
    Mark G on 16 Jun 2008 #

    Ducks? They’re seagulls! *OW*

  3. 63
    rosie on 16 Jun 2008 #

    But Tom, it makes such a change from people demanding their right to be taken seriously!

  4. 64
    Lena on 16 Jun 2008 #

    I take charabancs seriously, or rather I would if I knew what they were…

    When I finally heard this back in L.A. it had been around long enough (a year) for a DJ to have altered it so everytime the title was sung, instead of Rogers it was Little Richard yelling “LUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLE” in his very best fashion. It improved the song immensely!

  5. 65
    DJ Punctum on 16 Jun 2008 #

    Charabancs – old Victorian (though originally French, hence the name) horse-drawn carriages (and eventually motor-driven) popular a century or so ago, especially for works outings to the seaside and similar. Cited in the Stranglers’ hit of this period “Peaches” (no relation to the Presidents of the United States of America one) – Hugh Cornwell’s anguished exclamation “Oh SHIT! There goes the charabanc!”

  6. 66
    LondonLee on 17 Jun 2008 #

    Or “OH NO! There goes the charabanc!” in the radio version.

    Dirty sell-outs those Stranglers.

  7. 67
    Waldo on 17 Jun 2008 #

    Rosie – Great day yesterday. I’m going to have to do it in Dublin one of these times.

    DJP – You don’t know everything, but there’s someting you do know, you know, you know… *approaching hopping getting louder and LOUDER*

  8. 68
    richard thompson on 19 Feb 2010 #

    Around this time the wrong version of Peaches was played on Junior Choice I recall. Anyone remember a song called Lou Steel by Brian Blackburn in the summer of 77?

  9. 69
    Garry on 9 Apr 2014 #

    And to think if I was born a few days earlier it would have been the Sex Pistols. Still, in Australia Don’t Cry For Me Argentina was in its last of seven weeks at number one. Not funkiest time to be born, obviously…

  10. 70
    lonepilgrim on 2 Dec 2019 #

    nobody comes out well in this dreary passive-aggressive narrative – least of all Kenny Rogers or the UK singles buying public

  11. 71
    Mark M on 21 Mar 2020 #

    Sadly it’s RIP Kenny – not every Popular commentators’ cup of tea by any means, but a man who made a fair number of records I’m fond of.

  12. 72
    Paulito on 21 Mar 2020 #

    He picked a fine time to leave us…

  13. 73
    Gareth Parker on 2 Jun 2021 #

    Tom’s 4/10 is probably about right.

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