Music brings us all together – it’s a universal culture – and gambling is one of the oldest themes on Earth. Apart from singing about your childhood sweetheart, the gal next door, the one who broke your heart or the cheating no good bastard that broke your heart, good old fashioned gambling is one of the most common inspirations for a good tune. No wonder the best online casino games have a killer soundtrack!
Some of the best classics of the 20th and 21st century popular culture tracks are draped in the rich purple tapestry of a Vegas casino. Whether you are an Elvis aficionado, a Country and Kenny Rogers fan or a Motörhead rocker or simply just woke up in the House of the Rising Sun, it seems that the thrill of the roll of the dice has provided inspiration for all.
When the dealin’s done
Written in 1978 by the Nashville songwriter Don Schlitz, “The Gambler” has one of the most unforgettable chorus lines of all time: “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run”. Written to honor his late father Schlitz pays tribute to the man who, according to Schlitz in the Reader’s Digest Country and Western Songbook, was “the best man I ever knew.” “He wasn’t a gambler,” he explained. “But the song was my way of dealing with the relationship that I had with him.”
The song comes across from first-person perspective about a conversation with an old poker player on a train. Life advice to the narrator from the gambling guru comes through thick and fast as all the poker metaphors in the book are whipped out. This song is about handling what life throws at you and how to play the hand you are dealt.
Ace Of Spades
In the summer of 1980, the gambling psalm, ‘Ace Of Spades’, one of the most unforgettable songs, sealed Motörhead’s place as one of the greatest rock n’ roll bands of all time.
James Butler Hickok, the renowned ‘Wild Bill,’ perhaps the most famous of all the Western gunfighters, “Wild Bill Hickok” as he became known was also a regular poker player. On the afternoon of August 2, 1876, he was playing cards with his back to the door when he was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall .The cards he was holding at the time, a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights, became known as “the dead man’s hand.”
Frontman and founding member, bassist Lemmy recalls writing the song in Mojo magazine February 2011: ‘Ace of Spades’ is unbeatable, apparently, but I never knew it was such a good song. Writing it was just a word-exercise on gambling, all the clichés. I’m glad we got famous for that rather than for some turkey, but I sang ‘the eight of spades’ for two years and nobody noticed.” Perhaps it was all the same to Lemmy:
If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your man
You win some, lose some, all the same to me
The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say
I don’t share your greed, the only card I need is the Ace of Spades
Soul on fire
Written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman in 1968 as the title song for the film of the same name staring Elvis Presley, Viva Las Vegas remains one of the greatest hits of all time.
As a racing car driver who turns to waiting tables at a hotel in order to pay off a debt, his character finds fortune when he performs ‘Viva Las Vegas’ at the hotel’s talent competition along with a bevy of Vegas showgirls.
Capturing the glitz of the city, and a full hand of cheesy Vegas archetypes, we have hot dice, roulette wheels, bright lights, sizzling women, blackjack and slots. A full-blown nod to the thrill of Vegas, the song even has an upbeat message to those who are down on their luck: ‘If I wind up broke up well, I’ll always remember that I had a swingin’ time. Now we just have to think about whether banging fast-tempo music leads to fast betting or whether slow music means more chilled bets. I guess we’ll wait for the next ‘Poker Face’ to hit the charts!