NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Three decades after their unforgettable team-up on “Islands in the Stream,” Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton have a new duet out on Rogers’ latest album.
The title song from “You Can’t Make Old Friends” shows once again the special chemistry he and Parton have. But Rogers says it stops there.
“Working with Dolly is a great rush for me because we are good friends and we have been forever,” Rogers said. “People always thought we were having an affair and we didn’t want to ruin it because if we’d had an affair, we’d lose that spark. We just flirted a lot.”
Not even one stolen kiss?
“I can’t explain it but flirting is more electric than passion, it’s the anticipation,” Rogers said. “She does it better than anybody I’ve ever seen, and it’s just fun. It’s fun to be in the room with her.”
Rogers asked songwriter Don Schlitz, who wrote “The Gambler,” to come up with a song he could do with Parton that defined their relationship, and “Old Friends” was the result. There was no such premeditated planning for “Islands in the Stream.” The song, written by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, would eventually become a No. 1 hit on both the pop and country charts. But Rogers admits struggling with it before Parton entered the studio.
“I sang it for four days without her and I said, ‘I don’t even like this song anymore,”’ Rogers said. “So my manager had just run into Dolly and he brought her in, and in 40 minutes it just took on a whole different personality.”