“Islands In The Stream” — Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

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Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

We are all just islands in the stream…especially at the moment.

As turmoil swirls around us, we get to decide whether we hold fast and stand up for the human values of decency, kindness and compassion. Or lose our grip on what makes us human and allow ourselves to be swept along by the raging torrent carrying of all the world’s troubles before it.

Written by the Bee Gees, “Islands In The Stream” is a touching love song…a song about what it means to be with that special person you’ve waited for your whole life…

We all need that this week. As the world pulls down its shutters in a way that anyone who didn’t live through the carnage of WW2 couldn’t begin to understand, having someone to hold you close makes all the difference to your well-being when the going gets tough.

“Islands In The Stream” is a great metaphor too, although the Bee Gees didn’t come up with it. “Islands In The Stream” was borrowed from the title of an Ernest Hemingway novel, and boy, did Ernest Hemingway know how to write.

I know it’s an entirely different genre, but the Bee Gees were no slouches when it came to writing themselves.

They were big stars in the 1960s with songs like “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and “Massachusetts” before going on to become even bigger stars in the 1970s with “Night Fever” and “Stayin’ Alive”.

But in many ways, their biggest musical legacy is in the huge roster of hit songs the Bee Gees wrote for other artists. They were prolific in their output over the years and at one point nine of the songs in the Billboard Hot 100 were either written or performed by the Bee Gees (or both).

Paul Gambaccini had it about right when he said the Bee Gees were second only to Lennon and McCartney as the most successful songwriters in the history of British popular music.

They are the only songwriting team to have Number One songs in each of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s, an accolade which surpassed even the many stellar achievements of Lennon and McCartney in the songwriting department.

Sadly, “Islands In The Stream” came to mind earlier today not because of the inestimable songwriting talents of the Gibb Brothers, but because the sad news came through that the great Kenny Rogers had passed away.

One way or another, Kenny Rogers has had a hand in some of my favourite songs down the years and I know the world is going to be a poorer place without him.

But as you think about him today, take a moment to ask yourself…

Who’s your “island in the stream”? Who’s the rock you know you can hold on to if you need to save yourself? Who’s always there for you when you need someone?

Give thanks that they are in your life. Make sure you tell them even if, at the moment, you can’t give them the hug they deserve in person.

And ask yourself…

Who are you a rock for?

Who depends on you when things go bad? Whose back to you have, unquestioningly, whenever they need you? How long is the line of people queuing up to thank you for all you’ve done for them?

If the answer is “not very many people”, now’s the time to do something about that.

The world can always do with another hero.

Not the Marvel Comic sort. The real heroes. The people who see you through when nobody else will. The people who dispense unconditional love, especially towards people who are at their lowest ebb and are unlikely ever to be able to do them a favour in return.

What I’m talking about it the love is the sort you get from doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals of all sorts, the support staff without whom hospitals couldn’t function, paramedics, fire officers, police officers, those serving in uniform in all sorts of places, teachers, social workers, delivery drivers bringing our food, supermarket workers stacking the shelves, food banks, shelters for the homeless and many other noble causes.

Invisible most of the time, right now we need these people more than ever and can never do enough to thank them for the sacrifices they have, and will, make on our behalf.

That sort of love seems like a big ask for someone not in one of those jobs. However, as Mother Theresa said, if you can’t feed 100 people, just feed one.

Today, you can be someone’s island in a stream. Their rock to hold onto when they’re in danger of losing the battle against the current. Their source of succour in their time of need.

Maybe we can’t do that for the whole world, but if we could each do it for just one other human being more than we do at the moment, we might just help to change the world.

The Bee Gees wrote many fine songs besides “Islands In The Stream”. Kenny Rogers recorded many great records. But not many of them are more appropriate for the times we live in.

A Billboard Number One in 1983 and a UK Number Seven that same year, here’s the late Kenny Rogers and the thankfully still with us Dolly Parton with one of the greatest duets of all time… “Islands In The Stream”…

Rest in peace, Kenny…thank you for the music…


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Without words, it’s just a nice tune. Add words — now you’ve got a song. And songs can change your world. I write about some that changed mine.

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