The Gambler (song)

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"The Gambler"
Single by Kenny Rogers
from the album The Gambler
ReleasedNovember 15, 1978
FormatVinyl
GenreCountry
Length3:32
LabelUnited Artists
Writer(s)Don Schlitz
Producer(s)Larry Butler
Kenny Rogers singles chronology
"Love or Something Like It"
(1978)
"The Gambler"
(1978)
"She Believes in Me"
(1979)
 
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"The Gambler"
Single by Kenny Rogers
from the album The Gambler
ReleasedNovember 15, 1978
FormatVinyl
GenreCountry
Length3:32
LabelUnited Artists
Writer(s)Don Schlitz
Producer(s)Larry Butler
Kenny Rogers singles chronology
"Love or Something Like It"
(1978)
"The Gambler"
(1978)
"She Believes in Me"
(1979)

"The Gambler" is a song written by Don Schlitz and recorded by American country music artist Kenny Rogers. It was released in November 1978 as the title track from his album The Gambler which won him the Grammy award for best male country vocal performance in 1980.[1] Bobby Bare had recorded the song earlier that same year in his album BARE CBS KC35314 (1978). The song was written by Schlitz who had recorded it previously, and had charted at #65 on the country charts with it. It was one of five consecutive songs by Rogers to hit #1 on the Billboard country music charts. On the pop chart, the song made #16 in early 1979. It's become one of Rogers's most enduring hits and a signature song. As of November 13, 2013, the digital sales of the single currently stands at 798,000 copies.[2] The song was also recorded by Johnny Cash for his 1978 album Gone Girl.

Content[edit]

The song itself tells the story of a late-night meeting on a train "bound for nowhere" between the narrator and an unnamed man who is the gambler. The gambler tells the narrator that he can tell he is down on his luck ("out of aces") by the look in his eyes and offers him advice in exchange for his last swallow of whisky. After the gambler takes the drink (and a cigarette), he gives the following advice:

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,

Know when to walk away, 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.

The gambler then mentions that the "secret to survivin' is knowing what to throw away, and knowing what to keep" and that "the best you can hope for is to die in your sleep". At this point, the gambler puts out the cigarette and goes to sleep.

At the end of the song we are told that "somewhere in the darkness, the gambler, he broke even", and that the narrator finds "an ace that I could keep", in his final words. Rogers' rendition in an appearance on TV's The Muppet Show indicates the gambler actually dies in his sleep when he "broke even".

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1978-1979)Peak
position
Canada Adult Contemporary Tracks (RPM)6
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)2
Canada Top Singles (RPM)8
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[3]29
Spain (AFYVE)[4]12
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[5]22
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles1
U.S. Billboard Hot 10016
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks3

In popular culture[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reader's digest almanac and yearbook, 1981, p. 274 
  2. ^ Matt Bjorke (November 13, 2013). "Country Chart News - The Top 30 Digital Singles - November 13, 2013: CMA Awards Drive Sales; Eric Church "The Outsiders" #1; Taylor Swift "Red" #3". Roughstock. 
  3. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Kenny Rogers – The Gambler". Top 40 Singles.
  4. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  5. ^ Kenny Rogers UK Charts history, The Official Charts. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  6. ^ You've Gotta Know When to Fold'Em[PDF] from concordia.ca. GE Miller… - Psychological Science, 2007 - pss.sagepub.com
Preceded by
"On My Knees"
by Charlie Rich and Janie Fricke
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

December 16-December 30, 1978
Succeeded by
"Tulsa Time"
by Don Williams