Song: "The Gambler"
Writer: Don Schlitz
Original Release: 1978
Original Performer: Bobby Bare
While on the Paris subway last summer, I made a joke to my wife and daughter that I would ask a group of buskers if they could sing "The Gambler." This prompted a Google search for the French lyrics. After all, the internet was invented for just such a quest. It became a running joke of our trip.
No, I never did get up the nerve to ask them.
Now, "The Gambler" is one of the iconic songs of 1970s country music but it took a while for the song to catch on. It took two years of shopping around for Schlitz to find a musician to record it. Bobby Bare took it on at the urging of children's author Shel Silverstein, of all people but never released it as a single. Johnny Cash gave it a shot, including it on his 1978 Gone Girl album - again, no single.
Finally, Kenny Rogers got a hold of it. Whereas Cash's star had faded by the late '70s, Rogers was an industry titan. "The Gambler" was the second of five consecutive singles to hit the top of the country charts for Rogers. The record even enjoyed what was, at the time, rare crossover success, reaching #16 on the pop charts. It is most assuredly the song most closely associated with Rogers now and the one most likely to carry his legacy into the future.
As one who's played a lot of poker over the past few years (see here), the advice in the song is good.
How could I not include the Muppets?
Bobby Bare's original:
No, I never was able to find French lyrics. But if you're interested, here's a link to a line-by-line translation.
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Enjoy: A Window Above
What are you listening to these days?