If he really knew when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, Kenny Rogers either would take "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" out of his deck of songs, pronto , or learn to play it as if it meant something.
The late '60s Mel Tillis composition detailing the emotional agony of a crippled Vietnam vet and his wife is a gem, a devastating account of the wages of war. Rogers, either too obtuse or too caught up in being the breezy entertainer to notice that relevance, turned "Ruby" into a jaunty, joking, clap-along number Saturday night at the Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim, utterly divorcing it from all meaning embedded in the song. In better times, it would have been merely airheaded. In these times, it bordered on being offensive.