MusicAL: The Gambler

Hey everyone!

Taste in musicHowever, I am regularly informed by my friends that I have no taste in music whatsoever. I disagree, obviously, and point to such stone-cold classics as Bob James’ Take me to the Mardi Gras and The Quireboys’ Hey you if they need proof.

What?

You haven’t heard of either of those?

I heart countryThat’s probably because you spend your time listening to new music. I, on the other hand, have not listened to anything new for about twenty years. Today, I want to go back a little further even than that, to 1978, the year when I was born, and take a look at one of the best and most successful country music recordings of all time: Kenny Rogers’ recording of The Gambler.

The song was written by the excellently named Don Schlitz, and has been performed by a lot of big names over the years, including Johnny Cash. It was so popular for Kenny Rogers that he took The Gambler as his nickname. He also played Brady Hawkes, the title character in a series of five TV movies all called The Gambler. Check out these awesome titles:

Kenny Rogers as The Gambler (1980)
Kenny Rogers as The Gambler: The Adventure Continues (1983)
Kenny Rogers as The Gambler, Part III: The Legend Continues (1987)
The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (1991)
Gambler V: Playing for Keeps (1994)

It only took him seven years and three TV movies to become a legend!

That’s why he’s a legend.

So what’s the song about? Listen to it again, but this time read the lyrics as Kenny Rogers lays it down in his Grammy Award winning voice.

No country music

Did you understand a bit more that time round? Here are a few quick comprehension questions just to see if we’re on the same page:

1. Where did the singer meet the gambler?
2. Why couldn’t they sleep?
3. How did the gambler know what people’s cards were?
4. What did the gambler want in return for advice?
5. What is the secret to surviving?
6. What is the best that anyone can hope for?
7. What happened to the gambler at the end of the song?

Listen to the song again and see if you can answer the questions.

Those answers are:

1. On a train bound for nowhere.
2. They were both too tired.
3. By the way they held their eyes.
4. A taste of whiskey.
5. Knowing what to throw away and what to keep.
6. To die in their sleep.
7. He died! Yes, it is a country song.

Your taste in musicFor me, it’s a song about wisdom. It’s about learning how to live – by living. And it’s about the little moments – the taste of whiskey, the late night cigarette – and how they are the real meaning of life!

What do you think it’s about?

In the meantime, have a lovely weekend. I’m moving house, so wish me luck!

All the best,

Al

I am ethically bound to include the following message at this time:

DRINK RESPONSIBLY. IF YOU DON’T SMOKE, DON’T START. IF YOU DO SMOKE, QUIT.

GLOSSARY

Whatsoever = Synonym of ‘at all’. For example: I have no money at all.
Stone-cold classic= A song so good that everyone thinks it’s good
Proof = Evidence
Nickname = A colloquial name that is either earned or given
Title character = The protagonist
Awesome = Really very good
To lay it down = To record a music track
To be on the same page = To be thinking the same thing as someone else
Wisdom = Knowledge through experience

STOP! GRAMMAR TIME!

Active vs Passive

Sentences can be active or passive. Therefore, tenses also have “active forms” and “passive forms.” You must learn to recognize the difference to successfully speak English. When we talk about things that people have made, we often use passive forms, because the thing is often more important than the person who made it! In the blog you can find the following phrases:

‘I am regularly informed by my friends that I have no taste in music whatsoever.
‘The song was written by the excellently named Don Schlitz.
‘[The Gambler] has been performed by a lot of big names over the years.’

Active Form
In active sentences, the thing doing the action is the subject of the sentence and the thing receiving the action is the object. Most sentences are active.

[Thing doing action] + [verb] + [thing receiving action]

For example: ‘Kid Rock has written some really incisive lyrics.’

Passive Form
In passive sentences, the thing receiving the action is the subject of the sentence and the thing doing the action is optionally included near the end of the sentence. You can use the passive form if you think that the thing receiving the action is more important or should be emphasized. You can also use the passive form if you do not know who is doing the action or if you do not want to mention who is doing the action.

[Thing receiving action] + [be] + [past participle of verb] + [by] + [thing doing action]

For example: ‘Some really incisive lyrics have been written by Kid Rock.’

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