No, we're not back to Kenny Rogers. Not yet. (Although The Gambler is a great song.)
Instead, for the second Kenny Wednesday, I bring you... Kenny G!
(No, not that one. Yet.)
2. Kenny Gamble
This Kenny was one half of the legendary songwriting partnership Gamble & Huff. Kenny & Leon (Huff) also formed Motown rival Philadelphia International Records and pioneered the Philly sound. They're the men responsible for many, many classic soul standards, including If You Don't Know Me By Now, Backstabbers, Me & Mrs. Jones, Show You The Way To Go and When Will I See You Again?
But there are two Gamble & Huff compositions which stand out above all others to me, and I really couldn't choose between them... so I'm going to play you both...
The first one reminds me of being a teenager, when I was neck-deep in my first full-on Motown phase. It also reminds me of a teenage crush, unrequited love... you know the sort of thing. But this was the song which could turn that around. The rules were all right there in the lyrics, I just had to follow them one step at a time...
I'm gonna do all the things for you
A girl wants a man to do, oh baby
I'll sacrifice for you
I'll even do wrong for you, oh baby
Every minute, every hour
I'm gonna shower
You with love and affection
Look out it's comin' in your direction...
The restraining order still stands, thirty years later.
And then there's this, which I discovered quite a bit later. A charidee record, released in 1977 when the New York City dustbin men went on strike... it led on to a lot more socially-conscious work for Gamble & Huff, putting their money back into regenerating parts of Philadelphia to really clean up the ghettos Gamble grew up around...
That really is an All-Star line up: Teddy Pendergrass, Archie Bell, Billy Paul, The O'Jays, Dee Dee Sharp... and the peerless Lou Rawls doing that incredible spoken intro.