The casino music country song “The Gambler” was originally written in 1976 by singer-songwriter Don Schlitz. However, it was the version released by US country music star Kenny Rogers that made it a big international hit that landed number one in many countries.
The 1978 Rogers release of “The Gambler” was the beginning of Schlitz’s own career, and since then he has written dozens of other country-influenced songs that have had a notable commercial success. Two of Schlitz’s best known pieces (both co-written with Paul Overstreet) are probably “Forever and Ever, Amen”, taken by Randy Travis, and “When You Say Nothing Ever”, perhaps the most famous recording by Irish pop singer Ronan Keating.
Composer Don Schlitz
Don Schlitz also recorded “The Gambler” himself and released three albums as a stand-alone artist. But it’s his songs that have made this songwriter from North Carolina a hit in the world of country music and given him two Grammys and four ASCAP Country Songwriters of the Year. He wrote in 1991 at the request of US President George Bush the song “Point of Light” and was added to the 1993 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The story of the player
“The Gambler” examines a player’s life from a player’s perspective and recalls a meeting between the narrator of the song and a mysterious player during a nocturnal journey by train “to nowhere”. Since both men are too tired to sleep, they get into a conversation. And soon after, the player senses that his new companion is very much based on his happiness, and makes a deal to give the narrator advice on which to live – but only in return for the last sip from his whiskey bottle.
In this last drink, the player explains that in life, as with any poker hand, the secret is to know when to hold them, when to fold them, and, most importantly, when to leave. Know when to run. “Next, there’s a warning that you should be careful that you never count your money when you sit at the table, followed by a reminder to all potential casino players that this should be the only time you should ever count Your profits when the deal is complete. The player continues what a life as a player has taught him and reveals that his own “secret to survival” in the world and his good blackjack strategy was “knowing what to throw away and what to keep “. Then, darker, the player adds that “the best you can hope for is to die in your sleep,” whereupon he turns himself over to fall asleep.
As it turns out for the player in the song, this statement is really his last roll of dice. The narrator tells us that “somewhere in the dark” of the turn the player was “balanced” as he played his last hand and left this world. To the narrator, however, it seems that the sound advice he gave him a strong ace that he could keep – probably to improve the chances of getting his own broken life back on track.
These big mainstream hits were followed by more Kenny Rogers classics. However, some of the greatest musical and commercial successes in the singer’s long career have been the result of collaboration with other musicians. An early example of this sub-genre was the songs “We’ve Got Tonight” (starring Sheena Easton) and “Islands in the Stream”, which were recorded with country legend Dolly Parton, both released in 1983 and both a phenomenal one Had success on the charts. Since then Kenny Rogers has dueted regularly with other artists and has also appeared on many other releases – perhaps most notably in the US-for-Africa collaboration “We Are the World”, which again became an international success in 1985.