I don’t remember exactly what year it was, but I think I was in fifth grade. I do remember being incredibly excited to be going to a concert. My first real concert.
My parents were taking my sister and me to see Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton in Columbia, SC.
It was a big, big deal.
When my sister and I were little, we didn’t really listen to music that we picked out–we listened to music that my parents liked, which ranged from Oldies like “Sea Cruise” and “La Bamba” to Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. We loved it. We didn’t know anything else and, you have to admit, there are some pretty catchy tunes.
I remember singing “Jolene,” and “Coat of Many Colors” over and over again, but “The Gambler” was always one of my favorites.
Needless to say, going to see both Kenny and Dolly in one concert was, for me, a pretty spectacular occasion.
Today, I don’t remember everything about the concert, but I remember both Dolly and Kenny sang some songs separately and then they came together to sing their duets, like “Islands in the Stream.” And there was a really cool laser show.
Just to be clear: I had no idea what “Islands in the Stream” was about. I thought it was islands. In a stream. I liked islands, therefore, it was a good song.
I thought it was an excellent show–I wanted to wear dresses like Dolly Parton and sing on stage (I still do, as a matter of fact, but that’s beside the point).
Fast forward to 2013. I’ve been to many concerts and have seen some amazing bands–I was even in a video (trust me. I’m in there). However, after all these years, the Kenny and Dolly concert was still one of my favorites. It was first, and you never forget your first.
Then I heard that Kenny Rogers was playing at Copper Country on Labor Day Weekend. A free concert.
The weekend was less than perfect; Michael McDonald, who was scheduled to play on the Saturday, was rained out after four songs. My friend was worried about the rain and weather–she had been at the soggy show–but was willing to take the chance if I was.
Thanks to a friend I was able to get two tickets to the VIP section and I settled myself onto the bleachers to watch the show, wondering if Kenny was going to be able to give a performance as good as the one I remembered from my childhood. After all–he’s 75 years old.
I don’t know how I doubted The Gambler.
I should have listened to some of my new friends up there in the bleachers, like the couple who has seen Kenny perform more than 200 times; they traveled to Copper specifically to see this performance.
“I’ve met him before,” the wife confided. “I told myself that I wouldn’t get nervous but when I was standing in front of him, I just froze. I couldn’t say a word.”
There were so many wonderful elements to the show: he teased the crowd; he sang all of his songs that we wanted to hear; he made jokes. I’m also convinced that he waved at me, but that might have just been him trying to get me to stop singing so loudly.
I think the best part, though, was sitting in the stands in Colorado, remembering what it was like seeing him in Columbia. Yes, the venue was very different–there were no lasers or big flashy sets, just Kenny singing. My concert companions were different–instead of my family I was with a good friend and many strangers.
I am very different.
But in many ways I’m the same: a starstruck girl who is seeing the man and the voice that she grew up with in person. And though I think I could maintain some dignity if I actually met Kenny, I’m not sure that I would be as calm as I imagine.
Because when he looked my way, waved and gave a little grin, I know I was blushing.
Apparently Kenny and Dolly are getting together for another duet, this one called “You Can’t Make Old Friends.” You can check out the story and video here.