Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Kenny Rogers, “A Love Song”

“A Love Song”

Kenny Rogers

Written by Lee Greenwood

Radio & Records

#1 (3 weeks)

December 17 – December 31, 1982

Before I discovered the catalog of T.G. Sheppard, it was the work of Lee Greenwood that I expected to struggle with the most in this series.

I was caught off guard by him surfacing first as a songwriter.  He penned this Kenny Rogers No. 1 hit, and he was the first to record it.  

On paper, you wouldn’t expect the Rogers version to be that different from Greenwood’s, as they have as similar gravelly vocal style. 

But phrasing, y’all.  Take a listen to the Greenwood version and then listen to the Rogers chart-topping take on the same song.  Rogers elevates the middling lyric with a nuanced vocal performance that emphasizes all the right lines. 

Greenwood wrote the song and couldn’t interpret it anywhere near as well.  Granted, Greenwood opened his debut album with it, and Rogers was already a bona fide legend.  

But Rogers made a dull song listenable and almost interesting, and I wish I could have him sing the rest of the Greenwood songs this feature will inflict upon us.

“A Love Song” gets a B-. 

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I love this song for its simplicity and Rogers’ interpretation. From the time of its release until today I have to stop and listen to it when it comes on the radio. I especially love the bridge, which Kenny sings perfectly.

    Not sure what your problem is with Greenwood, who is an excellent singer in his own right. I’m hoping he doesn’t suffer the same fate as TG Shepherd has. Lee doesn’t deserve that.

  2. As a teen, I always disparaged this song and Rogers’ increasing tendency to record similar sounding material. All his ballads of this era blurred together in my mind (“Love Song,” “I Don’t Need You ,” “Through the Years” etc. I thought it was soft, milquetoast pop pablum. I was so much more interested in the burgeoning hard country of Skaggs and Straight.

    This song represented country’s past for me, or at least something to be moved on from.

    As an adult, however, softness has turned to tenderness. I appreciate how gentle and pretty this performance is. This song is quiet and comfortable.

    It takes maturity, professionalism, and vocal subtly to sell a song this smoothly and sincerely.

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