Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Kenny Rogers & Sheena Easton, “We’ve Got Tonight”

“We’ve Got Tonight”

Kenny Rogers & Sheena Easton

Written by Bob Seger


#1 (1 week)

April 9, 1983

At this point of the series, whenever I unexpectedly love something I was prepared to not like at all, I go right to the producer credit.

Blame it on “Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer,” but I was expecting “We’ve Got Tonight” to be a stodgy mess.  You know, that warmed over AC country from this era that has aged so poorly.

I wasn’t prepared for how fantastic this record was.  I don’t think Kenny Rogers or Sheena Easton ever sounded better, and there is nothing on the track that gets in the way of their powerhouse vocals. 

So who produced it? Kenny Rogers did…with David Foster.  

Foster gets a bum rap sometimes because of the type of music he’s associated with – again, big AC ballads.  But he’s the best producer of vocals that I’ve ever heard.  Name an artist who worked with him, and you can practically guarantee they never pulled off a more stunning vocal performance on their records with anyone else.  The studio that captured his production of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” still hasn’t returned to earth. 

“We’ve Got Tonight” was already a stunning song as a Bob Seger solo joint.  Rogers more than lives up to Seger here, and the contrast between his gritty vocal and Easton’s pure, high, feminine one makes it work even better as a duet.  They sound like two very different people who are lonely and turning to each other for one night.  

The one thing I was certain of was that there was no way this could be better than that other crossover smash duet that Rogers enjoys later in the year.

Now, I’m not so sure.

“We’ve Got Tonight” gets an A

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I’m telling you, Kenny was pure fire between 1977 and 1987. I had listened to Seger’s version for years and never imagined it as a duet.

    Kenny had heard Sheena Easton and wanted to sing with her. I’m not sure who picked We’ve Got Tonight but it fit both of their voices perfectly.

    A beautiful song performed by two amazing singers. Kevin, I don’t expect you to like this one but I’m so glad you did. Definitely an A.

    • I do try to listen to everything with fresh ears. I think I’m still unlearning all the “new traditionalism saved country music” rhetoric built into the narrative of the nineties country boom years.

      I kinda knew something was up the first time I heard “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and it had all those strings on it, but old assumptions die hard.

  2. Tim and Faith covered this version of the song live in 2016 and absolutely killed it. I’d love a studio version from them.

  3. I don’t disagree that Kenny Rogers’ best years were the ones from 1977 to 1987, whether one is a pop music fan or a country music fan. But I must honorably dissent when it comes to this version of “We’ve Got Tonight”, partly because it slows down to an AC ballad what I felt was, in Bob Seger’s hands back in 1978, one of rock’s premiere power ballads. I also have never been a fan of Sheena Easton’s voice either, though there are those who are, and I have no problem with that.

    Myself, I’ll give this a B- for effort, but I prefere Seger’s original.

  4. Throughout this feature, I have increasingly appreciated just what a brilliant vocalist Rogers was. Unfairly, I always slotted Rogers as a B-level star. I didn’t think he was a true country legend a la Haggard or Jones.

    Performances like this are making me question his status in my own power rankings of country stars. He sounds stunning here.

    Confidence and consistency certainly contribute to his legacy even when he would overreach in the coming years with songs like “Planet Texas.”

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