The Gambler Remix Lyrics

| 5 min read

Got a lot of requests at our Leadership Retreat this past weekend to post the lyrics to the rap verses I did on our super mashup-remix-extravaganza of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”. Had a lot of fun performing it. First time I’d ever rapped with a live band and loved it. So much fun!

I tagged some things in the lyrics to help explain some references and the thought process behind some of the lines. I stole this idea completely from Jay-Z’s Decoded, a book I read right before I’d started writing these verses. It’s a text-book on emceeing, I highly recommend it.


Verse 1

A long time ago I was ridin on a night train1
I sat next to a gambler with my dad’s name2
He said, “Son, I know this might sound strange
seems to me you’re on the road and you can’t turn the page”3

My mind was racin, pacin, with no hope of a pit stop
this rage I’m facin, try to keep from hittin fits of
barely successful, I mean that both ways4
tried to brush him off, but he’d have stared for days

“Son, you can’t bluff me, I can read your eyes”
He looked at me like he could read my mind
“Too young to quit yet, that’s a sure bet”
punctuated each line with his cigarette

“See, when the chips are all down, and the dealin’s done
is the only time you’ll know the game is won
if you cash out early, fold and leave
you wouldn’t know the dealer’s got aces up his sleeve”5

Verse 26

We as a people tend to excel7 at making compartments
in our lives with a spelled out startin and stoppin8
It’s funny, you check the etymology9
you can trace it all back and see the irony

We section buildings as a safety precaution10
if a spark ignites, you minimize your losses
And the way that we control a fire
is the same way we snuffed out the flame shut up in Jeremiah11

We serve a God who wants all, not half
first not last, the whole thing, no scraps
Might sound cliché, but I’m not above that12
His breath’s the only reason I can write these raps

On track13, what’s next? Homie, I don’t know
But the sheep follow the shepherd whereever he goes14
That’s the response to His grace, man
So you should’ve known, I was All In from the first hand

  1. This verse is essentially a retelling of the story that the original song tells. Things like the train, the cigarette and of course, the gambler make a bridge to the original. Even though the chorus isn’t exactly a tight fit to what we were trying to communicate, I wanted to still make the connection. ↩︎

  2. Mike Sexton is the name of my dad and a World Series of Poker Hall of Famer. ↩︎

  3. Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page”. The song is about a performer who hits the road and feels hollow from constantly giving of himself. This character in the song and even I, to a certain extent, can relate. ↩︎

  4. Both that I’m not successful at controlling my anger and that I haven’t accomplished anything. The two are linked. ↩︎

  5. This is really the product of my own wrestling with my call. Out of fatigue, I’m tempted to abandon it, but God has plans and abilities beyond my comprehension, I can’t give up yet. ↩︎

  6. This verse is rather complex for the first 8 bars. I’m drawing a correlation between compartmentalization of buildings and of our lives. This was actually addressed on an episode of Dexter and it gave me the idea. They both stop fires, only for Dexter he’s trying to quench his Dark Passenger, we run the risk of doing the same to the Holy Spirit. ↩︎

  7. Excel is, obviously, a spreadsheet program. A spreadsheet is a series of compartments. The word choice here is to subtly put the idea in your head and advance what I’m talking about. ↩︎

  8. Run on sentences for the win. ↩︎

  9. Yeah, I used “etymology” in a rap verse. Can’t hide my dorkiness. ↩︎

  10. So that you can close up part of the building and keep the fire contained. ↩︎

  11. When we only allow God access to part of our lives, that passion dies out. He can only inhabit the whole and refuses to take any less. ↩︎

  12. Honestly, this whole 4 bar section is a bit cliché. That’s always been my big criticism of “Christian” rap. It usually sounds like bumper sticker theology over music to me. The first 2 bars, though, have such a nice sound to them. I had a very bouncy flow to go along with them and I think they nailed the point home. This was to serve the purposes of the Leadership Retreat, “All In”. ↩︎

  13. In the first verse, our protagonist is riding on a train track and receiving advice from an old gambler. Now, he might not have the experience that the Gambler does, but he’s able to dispense the wisdom he’s learned. He’s giving it to you, not on a train track, but on this music track. It connects the idea from the previous line with the end of the verse. ↩︎

  14. If “the steps of the righteous man are ordered of the Lord” our responsibility is the righteousness, not the steps. ↩︎