Plenty of great artists have created songs that feature the beloved game of Poker. This has been going on for decades, and spans every genre of music. The lessons that the cards – on being patient, reading people and being disciplined – are the perfect inspiration for memorable lyrics. Whether the game is used as a metaphor or actual playing experiences are described, the material is pretty inspiring.
This is probably the first title that comes to mind when most people think about melodies involving Poker. Though it has been sung by many artists, most famously Rogers, it was written in 1976 by a then-23-year-old Don Schlitz.
Rogers won the 1980 Grammy for Best Male Country Performance when he sang it, and its heartfelt, seemingly hard-won advice is as important as ever today. As the gambler says, in cards as in life it is important to know how to manage with the situation you are presented with, and to handle yourself with dignity.
The same year that Rogers sang The Gambler, Motörhead released their signature tune Ace of Spades. This metal masterpiece could not be more different than the country drawl of The Gambler, and shows that this subject is perfect for every kind of music. The homage to a fast-paced, gambling lifestyle fuelled by drinking and late nights has something surprisingly pure about it, in spite of its brilliantly chaotic composition.
From the perspective of the wild young player who the words are attributed to, the experience of the game is enough; it doesn’t matter if he wins or loses. The Ace of Spades became such a huge part of Motörhead’s identity, that the band had to play it at every performance to keep the fans happy.
We couldn’t forget modern pop’s quirkiest princess! Poker Face was one of the biggest hits Mama Monster has had to date. The second single from her 2008 debut album called The Game, Poker Face uses common terms in the card game to create innuendos and double entendres. The song’s main theme is bisexuality, and Gaga is said to have written it as a tribute to her “rock-‘n-roll boyfriends”.
Love, according to the lyrics, is as much a game of chance as Poker is. Audiences and fans seemed to agree; the song garnered numerous awards including a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Play it the next time you need to psych yourself up for some time at a cards table, or in a club.