“Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer”
Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes
Written by Kim Carnes and David Ellingson
Radio & Records
#1 (2 weeks)
May 23 – May 30, 1980
Kenny Rogers’ Kenny album had been one of his biggest successes, with “Coward of the County” being the last No. 1 country single of the seventies. He took an interesting creative turn as a follow-up, releasing the concept album Gideon in 1980. All of the songs were written by Kim Carnes and David Ellingson, and Carnes provided vocal support on the album’s only single.
“Don’t Fall in Love With a Dream” is smartly constructed, with the dreamer and his doomed lover sharing their experiences in the verses. The chorus works as a warning from the dreamer and a wailing from his partner. He’s trying to convince her not to love him, while she uses the same words to try and convince herself of the same thing.
It’s really hard to write a duet that works so well, and this one wouldn’t be nearly as compelling as a solo track. However, the other thing that a duet has to get right is the pairing of the voices. I’m quite fond of both vocalists here, and they sound fine when they’re singing by themselves.
But when they harmonize, it’s like sandpaper. They don’t complement each other at all, and it’s grating to my ears hearing them sing together. It’s a shame because the chorus is written so well. There are some live duets with Rogers from his later years where he sings it with Linda Davis in 2003 and Wynonna in 2010. Unsurprisingly, that last version is the best one.
Regardless, it was a big hit that was overshadowed by solo records from both artists in the same year. Carnes would spend nine weeks at No. 1 on the pop chart with her classic “Bette Davis Eyes,” which won the Grammy for Record of the Year. She’d resurface in the country market in the early nineties as the songwriter of another No. 1 duet: Reba McEntire and Vince Gill’s “The Heart Won’t Lie.”
Rogers followed “Dreamer” with the top five hit “Love the World Away,” which was from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack. Both singles appeared on his 1980 Greatest Hits album, which was led off by the biggest crossover hit of his career. We’ll see it later this year.
“Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer” gets a B-.
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