Tuesday Tunes: The Gambler

Think of the songs you can (and do) listen to again and again. The first one of those that I remember is “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. I was young when my dad gave me a Best Of tape — young enough that it’s linked in my head with visits to my grandparents’ caravan down past Millisle, and I think we stopped going there while I was still in primary school.

I listened to this song over and over, which in the days of the cassette tape and Walkman took a little dedication. I remember fantasizing about learning to play it on the guitar and impressing everyone around me. I was young enough that those fantasies didn’t involve impressing girls, and it was years before I learned to play guitar. I never did learn to play “The Gambler”, though, and no-one would be impressed after I opened my mouth to sing it, anyway.

I do blame it for contributing to my adult liking for a bit of country, and not always country-rock, either. Oo-er.

The song came to mind when I read a recent PA strip, and I discovered that I don’t even have a copy of it anymore. Spotify came to the rescue, and after a couple of listens I was struck by the near-nonsense of it.

You've got to know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away
And know when to run. You never count your money
When you're sitting at the table;
There'll be time enough for counting
When the dealing's done.

As the last words of a man who’s been through the wringer, intended as essential advice for the young fella in danger of heading the same way, it certainly sounds good; it makes a nice graphic chorus for a country song. But I haven’t a clue what it actually means that’s of any use beyond, “Have a bit of wit.”

Still, nice tune, still love it. Perhaps I’ll pick up the guitar and figure it out.

“The Gambler” [YouTube]

“The Gambler” [Spotify]