There is plenty of music out there about the thrill of setting chips on the table, or the talent of
keeping on a poker face and taking bold chances. Other songs are less obvious about it. Some are
very deep, cutting into things that no one really wants to think about day by day. Some of these
songs have been circulating on the radio for decades, hiding their deep meanings behind a catchy
chorus and cryptic verses.
- Take Me Down to Junior’s Farm
It’s hard to say exactly what Paul McCartney’s possibly acid-fueled hit is about, but gambling is
definitely one of those things. The song drifts between strange little anecdotes, from coming
face-to-face with a sea lion to watching 1920’s cinema, but always coming back to that one time
the character made it big playing poker. Like that one fishing story that never dies, the song
keeps prodding, saying “you should have seen me with the poker man.” The story sure seems
exciting, though. He bet $1,000 on a single round of poker, and managed to scrape ahead
because of a glimpse at a rival’s cards.
- House of the Rising Sun
Written and performed by The Animals, The House of the Rising Sun comes from a long
tradition of folk tunes lamenting the life of a broke gambler in New Orleans. It describes the
struggle to leave the casino behind and the crushing knowledge that the urge to gamble will
always be constant, and happiness only comes from returning to the casino.
The Grateful Dead hit is about a traveling gambler causing excitement everywhere he goes,
much like the Grateful Dead, themselves, did when they went on tour. When he comes into town,
the candyman gets all of the boys to come out and gamble by rolling bones, with a promise:
“Seven come eleven, boys, I’ll take your money home.” That would certainly be the life, causing
a ruckus just for showing up and then coming home with heavy pockets.
- Roll the Bones
The 1970’s philosophical band, Rush, compares gambling to being alive. Roll the Bones asks
why people are here and what they should do with their lives, and doesn’t come up with an
answer. Instead, it urges to just keep rolling the bones and not worry about coming up with all
the answers. “Why are we here? Because we’re here. Roll the bones,” the song echoes and