“Sweet Music Man” wasn’t one of Kenny Rogers best-known hits. It’s almost more of an after thought in comparison to “The Gambler,” “Lady” or “Islands In the Stream.” Yet it’s the song so many artists are selecting to honor the late, great country star.
Bailey Rae, the small-town Oklahoma girl, sang a cover of the Rogers song in the current season of “The Voice.” She was dressed in an all-white, sequin suit with fringe off the back. She sat back on a chair and added her interpretation to the quiet classic. By the end of the song, she was up on her feet, singing the tender ending.
Sing your song sweet music man, I believe in you.
Bailey Rae is on John Legend’ssquad. She’s the first country singer Legend, who delights audiences with his love songs, has selected for his group.
And Legend loved Bailey Rae’s cover. Kelly Clarkson, another judge on “The Voice” suggested Bailey Rae sing the Rogers’ song. It was a winning performance.
What Does The Song Mean? There’s a Back Story to “Sweet Music Man”
Rogers, who died in March, wrote this song in the mid-1970s. He released the single in 1977. It was his first off the album “Daytime Friends” and it topped out at No. 9 on the Billboard country music charts. The song was on the B side of two of his records, “Lady” in 1980 and “We Were Good Friends” in 1983.
There was a quiet melancholy to Rogers’ voice when he sang “Sweet Music Man.” It almost sounded as if he was singing about himself.
But he wasn’t.
Rather, Rogers said he was inspired to write the song after talking to Jessi Colter. She’s a singer from the 1970s who played music in the outlaw country lane. She knew that type of music well. After all, she was married to Waylon Jennings.
Colter was having problems in her marriage. Rogers took them to heart and wrote a sad, yet beautiful song.
Rogers recalled Colter telling him “No matter what he does, he’s still my sweet music man.”
In Tributes to Kenny Rogers, So Many Stars Are Picking This Song
When Rogers first released the song, a number of fellow artists sang covers of it. Dolly Parton, who described Rogers as her “soulmate,” sang a version months after her friend released it.
Then when Rogers died this year, more stars picked it up.
The CMA Awards honored Rogers’ life last month during its annual show.
Rather than pulling his bigger hits, Little Big Town picked “Sweet Music Man” for the tribute. They added another layer to it, adding tender four-part harmonies.
It’s all beautiful.