Unassuming memoir by one-time chartbuster Rogers, he of “The Gambler” fame.
The author’s approach to memoir writing is consonant with his approach to song crafting and chicken making: crowd-pleasing, unchallenging and resolutely middle-of-the-road. Some might call it bland, but it’s calculated not to offend. A child of hardscrabble East Texas, Rogers doesn’t dig too deeply to find the well of the past; “I can’t say for sure,” he writes, “but I just took it for granted that I was part Irish, part Indian, and that was that.” A talent for singing and playing guitar brought him early into professional music, and he got his first hit with a psychedelic-lite version of Mickey Newbury’s “Just Dropped In,” refreshed on the hip-o-meter when given a standout moment in The Big Lebowski. Though shot through with show-business anecdotes, Rogers’ narrative doesn’t dish much dirt; when he tells a joke, refreshingly, it’s most often about himself, as when he mangled an expensive amplifier early on in his career: “We didn’t have the heart to confess how truly stupid Mickey [Jones] and I were, so we did the next most honorable thing. We blamed the airlines.” Neither does Rogers dig too hard into the touchier parts of his past, mentioning numerous ex-wives only in passing. The refrain, “What in the world were you thinking, Kenneth Ray?” runs throughout, but rarely does he stop to really turn the question over—though he does let us know why he never cozied up to drugs, for which, and for all the general mayhem that Rogers doesn’t chronicle, please consult Keith Richards’ Life.
“The audience expects to be entertained 100 percent for their ticket dollar,” Rogers writes. This doesn’t really hit that 100 percent mark, but it’s a light and pleasant read all the same.