(written by Hal Bynum and Roger Bowling)
Kenny Rogers (#1 country, #5 pop, 1977)
The rags-to-riches tale of Kenny Rogers has been termed an “all-American story,” one that hinges on the fourth single following his change in direction to country music in the mid-‘70s: “Lucille.”
As the lead singer of the First Edition (a breakoff group from the New Christy Minstrels), Rogers had earned notoriety with two Top Ten pop singles – “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” and “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.” When that group disbanded in 1975, Rogers signed a solo deal with United Artists Records in Nashville. Destitute, he needed an advance from the label just to keep a band together. Kenny’s new producer, Larry Butler, guaranteed a two-album-per-year output with $15,000 per album up front, giving Rogers some capital to build on.
Kenny’s career in country music began modestly. His first three singles were good, but they did little more than establish Rogers’ name on country radio. But “Lucille,” the second single from his second solo album, proved a monster.
Songwriter Hal Bynum started the song at a time when he was trying to keep a failing marriage together. One of his wife’s female friends wanted to have an affair with him, and when his wife went out of town, Bynum feared that he would give in either to the other woman or go on an alcoholic binge. As his wife prepared for her trip, he said to himself, “You picked a fine time to leave me.”