Music

'Islands in the Stream': The Story Behind the Country's Catchiest Duet

Laura Roberts/Invision/AP

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton were both successful on their own in the music industry, but together they were unstoppable. Their friendship started in the studio when they recorded one of the greatest country duets of all time, "Islands in the Stream."

The Story Behind 'Islands in the Streams'

After the '70s were over and everyone was putting away their disco balls, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees decided they would write and produce songs for other artists.

"Islands in the Stream," named after an Ernest Hemingway novel, was originally written for Marvin Gaye, but it eventually turned into a pop-country classic.

Barry was producing a record for Rogers and offered the song "Islands in the Stream" for Rogers to record.

After listening to the recording for several days, Rogers told Gibb, "'Barry, I don't even like this song anymore' and he said, 'You know what we need? We need Dolly Parton.' Once she came in and started singing, the song was never the same. It took on a personality of its own."

Dolly Parton was already at the studio when Gibb suggested she sing on the song. Ken Kragen, Rogers' manager, went downstairs and asked if she would be willing to make the song a duet, and the rest is history.

Following its release, the love song knocked Bonnie Tyler's 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' out of the number one spot in 1983. It became certified Platinum for selling over two million physical copies in the US.

'Islands in the Stream' Lyrics:

Baby, when I met you
There was peace unknown
I set out to get you
With a fine-tooth comb
I was soft inside
There was something going on

You do something to me
That I can't explain
Hold me closer and I feel no pain
Every beat of my heart
We got something going on

Tender love is blind
It requires a dedication
All this love we feel
Needs no conversation
We ride it together, ah-ha
Making love with each other, ah-ha

Islands in the stream
That is what we are
No one in between
How can we be wrong
Sail away with me
To another world
And we rely on each other, ah-ha
From one lover to another, ah-ha

I can't live without you
If the love was gone
Everything is nothing
If you got no one
And you just walk in the night
Slowly losing sight of the real thing

But that won't happen to us
And we got no doubt
Too deep in love and we got no way out
And the message is clear
This could be the year for the real thing

No more will you cry
Baby, I will hurt you never

We start and end as one
In love forever
We can ride it together, ah-ha
Makin' love with each other, ah-ha

Islands in the stream
That is what we are
No one in between
How can we be wrong
Sail away with me
To another world
And we rely on each other, ah-ha
From one lover to another, ah-ha

Now Watch: 10 of Charley Pride's Greatest Songs

recommended for you

'Islands in the Stream': The Story Behind the Country's Catchiest Duet