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A singer as notable as Kenny Rogers doesn’t necessarily need a “comeback,” but these last couple years he’s certainly enjoying one. Not only did he gain membership this year into the Country Music Hall of Fame (alongside Bobby Bare and the late ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement), just last fall he released a memoir (Luck or Something Like It). That same year he played in front of young rock fans at Bonnaroo, and this year he’s scheduled to perform at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Music and Food Festival.
On top of all that, Rogers is preparing to release a new studio album. Titled You Can’t Make Old Friends, the album is set for release October 8. And among the material is one song that longtime Rogers fans will certainly be eager to hear–a duet with Dolly Parton.
The two country legends recorded several duets together, including “Real Love,” “Love Is Strange” and an entire album of Christmas songs. Their most notable collaboration, though, came in 1983, when they released “Islands in the Stream.” A song written by the Bee Gees (and inspired by an Ernest Hemingway novel), it topped both the pop and country charts and was even named Song of the Year.
Now 30 years after that landmark duet, the two are reuniting for “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” the title track of Rogers’ new album.
“What a thrill it was for me to work again with my buddy, Dolly Parton, and what a special song,” Rogers said in a statement posted on his website. “Working with Dolly is always a little like going home. Everything felt comfortable.”
You Can’t Make Old Friends is Rogers’ first country album since the release of Water & Bridges in 2006. For the album, Rogers worked with a number of producers including Kyle Lehning, Warren Hartman, and Dann Huff–the latter notable for, among other accomplishments, his work on the recent album Pioneer by The Band Perry.
“Musically, I tried to do some things that I’ve never done before,” Rogers said in a recent interview with Colorado’s Summit Daily. “I was very happy with the results of it. There’s only two ways that I can compete at my age and with my history: One is to do whatever everybody else is doing and do it better; the other is to do what no one else is doing, and you don’t compete, and that’s how I decided to go with this. It’s uniquely different from what I’ve done and what everyone else is doing.”
On the whole, he continued, “It’s one of the most diverse albums I’ve ever done; it sounds really contemporary, with great songs, good music. It’s an album that I’m really excited about. If it’s my last album, I’ll be happy to go out this way.”