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Islands in the Stream

by

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written by The Bee Gees as an R&B song. On March 10, 2009 when Maurice Gibb appeared on the BBC Breakfast programme, he explained that it was written for Marvin Gaye, however it was recorded instead as a duet by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton with the Gibb Brothers also contributing vocals. The Bee Gees performed the song themselves on their 1998 live album One Night Only.
The title came from an Ernest Hemingway story which was published in 1970. It was the first of his books to be published posthumously.
"Islands in the Stream" won the 1985 American Music Awards winner for Favorite Country Single. Twenty years later it topped CMT's poll of the best country duets of all time.
It would be seventeen years before another Country song, Lonestar's "Amazed," reached the summit of the Hot 100. "Islands in the Stream" also topped the Australian charts for 10 weeks.
The Bee Gees were focused on songwriting around this time, since their look in sound had fallen out of favor after the demise of Disco. The group could write in a variety of styles, however, which they proved on this song. Members of the group also wrote several hits for their brother, Andy Gibb, as well as the Barbra Streisand hit "Woman In Love" and the Dionne Warwick song "Heartbreaker."

Their extensive songwriting accomplishments earned them induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994.
A version of this song was recorded by Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon from the BBC comedy Gavin & Stacey plus Welsh legend Tom Jones and Bee Gee Robin Gibb for the 2009 Comic Relief charity appeal. When Comic Relief asked permission to release a cover of this song, Gibb told the Radio Times that he had no qualms. He said: "We have one of the most successful song catalogues in the world. When you've got a catalogue that big, you have to make sure that people don't abuse it by changing lyrics or using songs for derogatory reasons. Most people respect that and stay true to the original as best they can. This is for a great cause and they've done a great job."
The Comic Relief version of this song topped the UK chart, with the result that the 68-years-and 9 months-old Tom Jones became the oldest living act ever to have a #1 single in the UK. The previous record holder was Louis Armstrong, who was a mere 66 years-old when "What A Wonderful World" reached the peak position in 1968. This also meant that a song written by the Bee Gees has been #1 in the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and '00s, something no other song-writing partnership has achieved.
OK, here's the joke associated with this song: What do you call Dolly Parton lying down in a bathtub?
Kenny Rogers told the television host Piers Morgan this story of the time he pretended to be himself:

"I was in Vegas, and as a joke, I went into one of those things where they have the impersonators and I didn't tell anybody it was me," he recalled. "So I go up on the stage and I'm singing with this girl who looks like Dolly, sang great like Dolly."

"We did 'Islands in the Stream' and when it was over, this man comes up to me and says: 'I'll tell you one thing, you're a hell of a lot better than the real guy.'"
Former Fugee Pras Michel's 1998 hit, "Ghetto Superstar (That Is What You Are)" was based around this song.
Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
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Comments (8):

"Former Fugee Pras Michel's 1998 hit, "Ghetto Superstar (That Is What You Are)" was based around this song." "Based around..." what a polite way of saying "ripped off".
- Karen, Manchester, NH
I saw Dolly and Kenny sing this live in 1987. It's like Barry said, the Bee Gees have so many wonderful songs, but I can't help thinking this is my favorite of all time. No one will ever replace their billiance when it comes to songwriting and producing.
- Zappy, Geelong, Australia
Everytime I hear this song it just makes me want to dance around the room or wherever I am....Its brilliant!
- TianCai, Penang, Malaysia
:D I just love this song.. It's so singable..
- Budoshi, Sandnessj√łen, Norway
I love this duet,too! one day,Don and I will do this together.
- Jennifer Harris, Grand Blanc, MI
I heard they wrote the song for Diana Ross not Marvin Gaye!! On more than one occasion Maurice stated this.
- Mallory, Upper Marlboro, MD
The version of Kenny Rodgers/Dolly Parton of this Bee Gee's song is so wonderful. I have it on a double cd with famous duets from The Everly Brothers, Righteous Brothers, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly, Ike and Tina Turner and many others.
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
Kenny Rogers' beard made this song. It really is a great song, but what Gibb brothers song isn't?
- Jeff, Austin, TX
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