♫ The Gambler ♫

For the most part, I am not a fan of country music.  There are exceptions, however, and Kenny Rogers is one of them, although I have been told that he was no ‘knight in shining armour’.  I like some of Kenny Rogers music, am a huge fan of the couple of times he and Dolly Parton have paired up, I like Lee Greenwood and some of Willy Nelson’s music.

What made me pick this one for your Monday listening pleasure?  Not much, really … I was having a conversation via email with a dear friend and the line just popped into my head, “I know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”, and I’ve been humming this ever since!  So, as is often the case, I am sharing it with you in order to expunge it from my own psyche.

You have to admit … well, my female friends will understand … that he’s not at all hard on the eyes, and there’s something about that slightly gravelly voice …

The Gambler
Kenny Rogers

On a warm summer’s eve
On a train bound for nowhere
I met up with the gambler
We were both too tired to sleep
So we took turns a-starin’
Out the window at the darkness
The boredom overtook us,
And he began to speak

He said, “Son, I’ve made a life
Out of readin’ people’s faces
Knowin’ what the cards were
By the way they held their eyes
So if you don’t mind me sayin’
I can see you’re out of aces
For a taste of your whiskey
I’ll give you some advice”

So I handed him my bottle
And he drank down my last swallow
Then he bummed a cigarette
And asked me for a light
And the night got deathly quiet
And his faced lost all expression
He said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right

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 sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die
in your sleep

And when he finished speakin’
He turned back toward the window
Crushed out his cigarette
And faded off to sleep
And somewhere in the darkness
The gambler he broke even
But in his final words
I found an ace that I could keep

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 sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em (when to hold ’em)
Know when to fold ’em (when to fold ’em)
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

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 sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

Songwriters: Don Schlitz
The Gambler lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

26 thoughts on “♫ The Gambler ♫

  1. Dear Jill,

    I’ve used this song to explain the facts of life to my kids when they were growing up. I would tell them they have been dealt a hand, and its up to them to make the best out of that hand. They heard that refrain often enough:

    You have to know when to hold ’em
    Know when to fold ’em
    Know when to walk away
    And know when to run.

    I would tell them making excuses, blaming others, meant they were doomed to play the hand poorly. Making mistakes was not the end of the world. But they had to learn so they could play the next hand better.

    I am fond of this song and Kenny Rogers.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If I remember correctly, I mentioned this song when you posted Dolly and Kenny’s duet “Islands in the Stream” awhile back. I love this song, but love most any Kenny Rogers song. I also liked the first “Gambler” movie from way, way back too. However, ‘not at all hard on the eyes’ can only include pre-2006 photos! The eyelid lift was a disaster, among others. Did you know that he left the chapter about his surgeries out of his memoir, but included his bad boy exploits?! But, my heart still has a huge space for Kenny and always will. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • And just WHERE have you and Benjamin been, young lady??? I’ve missed you both!!! I was going to give you a few more hours, then email to see if you were okay!

      Yes, definitely pre-2006. I Googled some later photos and … ewwww. No, just no. Men age so wonderfully anyway,why would one bother to do this? Yes, you did mention it, and I’m a bit slow, but I eventually get there! I may have to do Islands in the Stream again, for I do love that one! Love their energy and the way they mesh together. Now take Benjamin to get his juice box before it turns sour!

      Like

    • I’m with you on that … I loved the folk music, but not so much country. When i got married in 1970, my husband was a huge country music fan, and in fact it was ALL he listened to. Somehow Waylon Jennings and the rest never grew on me, but a few did.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kenny Rogers wasn’t one of my favorites personally, but…..I liked a lot of his songs! Really liked…. “Islands in the Stream” with he and Dolly Parton and “Mary Did You Know” with Wyonna Judd! That one always makes me cry!!!! 😢
    “The Gambler” was a hit with many , for sure!!!!! 🤠

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill, good song. Early in his career, when he was a rock-n-roll singer, he belted out a very memorable line, “I just stopped in to see what condition my condition was in.”
    Another favorite but bittersweet song lyric from early on is about a Vietnam vet who I think is a quadraplegic or cannot perform, which goes “Ru…by, don’t take your love to town.”

    Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh … I remember both of the ones you mention, though I haven’t heard them or thought of them in ages. Ruby was indeed sad … and now that you’ve mentioned it, of course I had to go listen … 😊 ♫

      Like

  5. I like that song, Jill. Thanks for sharing. I’d consider that as leaning heavily toward the western side of country and western. I like Dolly Parton songs also. I was a rock and roll fan and there was a thin line between that music and country and western. Many of those entertainers went back to country music when the English groups became popular. I loved the music of the Everly Brothers from the time I was a teenager. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • I, too, am a fan of Dolly — she brings so much energy to her music and always performs with a huge smile! One of my favourites is Kenny & Dolly together in Islands in the Stream. I remember the Everly Brothers, but was never a huge fan. Did you know how they broke up? Don showed up drunk to a show in Hollywood in 1973. He kept screwing up the lyrics until Phil smashed a guitar over his head and stormed out!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t hear that one. I did read that Phil died not long ago and Don was broken up by it. He said he always thought he’d be the first to go. I think they both smoked and heavy smoking isn’t good. For all his drinking Don is still going as far as I know. It’s odd about some drinkers. My brother was an alcoholic and lived into his 90’s. —- Suzanne

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, it is odd …. but you just never know. My late husband had a uncle who never smoked a day in his life, but died of lung cancer in his 50s. George Burns lived to 100 and was a heavy smoker all his life. That’s my response when anybody criticizes my own 3-pack-a-day habit 😏

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Always liked this song. As I was reading the lyrics, of course, I had them wrong all these years, but what struck me was knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep. As a survivor of domestic violence, that is a great lesson, because far too often, we don’t learn the criteria for knowing what to throw away. I felt a little philosophical today! Thanks for a great Monday song. Regina

    Liked by 1 person

    • You sound just like me! I am nearly deaf, so I often mistake the lyrics for something else. My daughter, who is a music fanatic, frequently either shakes her head, or corrects my version. But usually I just go back to singing it my way anyway!

      You are so right … often we hang onto ‘things’ or people far longer than we ought. I find it hard to let go of friendships, but the current political climate and my views have done that for me. 😥

      Welcome, by the way! I love seeing new faces and hope you’ll drop by again! Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

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