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Christmas Music Playlists with Kenny Rogers Songs
Let Kenny Give You A Christmas To Remember
Factfile - Kenny Rogers
- Kenny Rogers' chief Christmas albums are Christmas (1981), Once Upon a Christmas (1984), Christmas in America (1989), The Gift (1996) and Christmas from the Heart (1998).
- His first album, Christmas featured the single Kentucky Home Made Christmas and peaked at #10 on the US Country charts and #34 on the Billboard 200. It has been re-released since as Christmas Wishes.
- His collaborative album with Dolly Parton, Once Upon a Christmas, has sold over five million copies, reached #31 in the Billboard 200 and featured the single The Greatest Gift of All. It was released in tandem with a CBS television Christmas Special, Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas to Remember.
- The Gift was the best selling Holiday album in the US in 1996 and featured a duet with Wynonna Judd, Mary, Did You Know?.
- In 2000 Rogers co-wrote a children's story, The Toy Shoppe based on his Christmas musical.
No country Christmas playlist could be without a festive classic or two from country legend Kenny Rogers. He may have made his name from such gun toting numbers as ‘Coward of the County’ and ‘The Gambler’ but for some of us it is during December that his soft country tones are most welcome. And Rogers has a repertoire of Christmas songs to rival any of the greats with 6 studio and one live Christmas album to his name. It all started out in 1981 with the simply titled ‘Christmas’ which made it clear for all to see that Rogers truly loved the season. With a running time of just over half an hour ‘Christmas’ provided an engaging mix of original material (written for the most part by Pete McCann) and covers of classic Christmas songs. The album opened bravely with 2 new compositions, ‘Christmas Everyday’ which was a wide-eyed religious affair with twinkling arrangements and Kenny offering soft tones and genuine affection for the picture he painted. ‘Kentucky Homemade Christmas’ was a far brasher affair which highlighted the more contemporary scene of a family struggling again over the Christmas period. It would become one of Kenny’s most famous Christmas songs.
‘Christmas’ showed its spirit of adventure when Kenny tackled ‘Carol of The Bells’, a song so often characterised by female vocals so it is to his credit that it turned out so well. And given its vintage much praise must go to ‘Christmas’s production which is showing very little sign of age. As you expect though there are a few signs of syrup on the album with ‘White Christmas’ coming across as too eager to be happy and new song ‘Kids’ overwrought due to set of maudlin lyrics. Kenny fares much better when he turns his hand to carols such as ‘O Holy Night’ and especially ‘When A Child Is Born’ which ends the album on a spiritually uplifting manner.
After the success of ‘Christmas’ Kenny turned to his singing partner of choice Dolly Parton for the glorious romp that was ‘Once Upon A Christmas’. If any album was to define both country singers contribution to the season it was this 1984 album. That it was released in tandem with a network TV Christmas special featuring the loveable pair called ‘A Christmas To Remember’ only helped to ingratiate itself with the general public. ‘Once Upon A Christmas’ was stocked full of great Christmas singles, chief among them was ‘A Christmas To Remember’ which while sounding like an archetypal sound from the 80’s features wonderful call and response dynamics which made it an overwhelming joyous affair. Not as uplifting but still ranking amongst Kenny and Dolly’s best Christmas efforts is ‘Christmas Without You’. Again the percussion is a tad leaden but both vocalists offer such dandy performances it is easy to look beyond the general datedness. The album’s main single ‘The Greatest Gift of All’ is another heartbreaker but when these two got together it always meant a magical experience would ensue.
It would be 5 years before Rogers again turned his hand to Christmas music and ‘Christmas in America’ (1989) was another winner for his large army of country fans. While it was not as successful commercially as his previous 2 Christmas efforts there is still much to recommend. The title track is well produced and featured a backing choir to add a heavenly intermission from Kenny’s sometimes spoken word homilies. Other songs featured were just made for the country singers homespun vocals so there is something comforting in hearing him sing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’, ‘Joy To The World’, and a soothing and very delicately dispatched ‘Silent Night’.
It would be 1996 before Kenny took to the Christmas boards again and ‘The Gift’ saw him return revitalised and in fighting festive form. The album even scored a hit in the singles chart when Rogers duetted with Wynonna Judd on the overtly religious number ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ This was a world away from Kenny and Dolly but it marked a nice departure for the cowboy who was in the process of reinventing himself. ‘The Gift’ was quite serious in tone with the theme of the nativity running through each of its 9 tracks. That said ‘Pretty Little Baby Child’ had the distinction of being a Kenny Rogers song that was quite reggae in nature.
By 1998 Kenny was back in familiar territory with ‘Christmas From The Heart’ which primarily focused on secular Christmas songs such ‘Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow’ and ‘The Christmas Song’. Where this album differs was its inclusion of quite a number of tracks from a musical called ‘Christmas From The Heart’ featuring a host of child vocalists with Kenny nowhere to be seen (or heard). For this reason and the rather generic approach taken by Kenny’s contributions ‘Christmas in the Heart’ was almost universally panned by the critics. Lucky for us then that Kenny had so many other great Christmas albums to fall back on.
Thankfully and despite the misgivings of his last Christmas album of the 20th century Kenny would return with ‘Christmas With Kenny’ in 2004 where he reprised many of his favourite Christmas songs. Kenny further put a yuletide bow around his ample Christmas catalogue by releasing a live album in 2012 called ‘Christmas Live!’ which underlined how one of country’s greatest exponents had lost none of his effervescent joy for the season.
It's just another homemade Christmas in Kentucky, Just odds and ends I fashioned with my heart and with my hands.. Our fine and fancy homemade love, God's precious gift from up above
Kenny Rogers, Kentucky Homemade Christmas
Kenny Rogers Christmas Album & Single Covers