Saturday, July 13, 2013

Track of the Week: Kenny Rogers, "The Gambler"

My two daughters, born a year ago this week, have been making the transition from sweet, cheerful babies into terroristic toddlers.  Bedtime used to be easy.  I would put them in their cribs, read to them for a bit, and then leave some soothing music playing.  Nowadays they fight sleep with all their might, and I've found that singing to them is one of the few things that gets them to calm down.  The other night, faced with this task, I wracked my brains for a song to sing to them, and the words of "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers started pouring out of my mouth.

That was hardly a mistake, since there are few songs I associate more with my own early childhood.  Back then my parents owned only about six albums (all on cassette), and the one played most often was The Gambler.  (John Denver, The Carpenters, Tony Orlando, Mel Tillis, and Lawrence Welk were some of the other choices.)  This song always takes me back to the earliest memories that I have.

It's a song that has resonated with a lot of people besides me.  How many other country ditties have spawned a made for TV movie and three sequels?  (I once saw them all for sale together as a DVD box set called "The Gambler Saga.")  Perhaps it's because it's one of the few radio hits to dispense valuable life advice.  You may laugh, but my leaving academia was both a time to know when to fold them, and when to run.  Tucking my daughters in every night reminds me I did a helluva lot more than break even.

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