Day Two of our look at Reprise Records examines a classic recording by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition from 1969: “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” While it was not the first recording of this Mel Tillis composition about a paralyzed Vietnam veteran, it is the best known version. It was first recorded by Johnny Darrell in 1967 and was a Top 10 country hit.
While Rogers and The First Edition’s version two years later only made it to #39 on the country charts, it peaked at #6 on the US pop and adult contemporary charts. It also was a Top 5 hit in Canada, the UK, and the Netherlands. The single was arranged and produced by two veteran musicians – respectfully Glen D. Hardin and Jimmy Bowen.
The song’s lack of country enthusiasm was probably due to two factors. First, it was a recent remake of a big country hit from two years earlier. Second, The First Edition had been labeled as a psychedelic band with their first big hit “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” Country radio would have steered clear of anything that remotely resembled the counter culture. I bet today that Kenny Rogers’ version of the song and not Johnny Darrell’s earlier hit is the one heard on country radio.
Thanks to all of our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen who have served our country with unquestioned loyalty. Happy Memorial Day.