The ups and downs of the casino are one of the most popular sources of inspiration for artists making the metaphorical connection between life and the throws of a dice. From The Eagles to Sara Bareilles, there are thousands of songs which feature card game references which is great for making a game night playlist. Here are a few suggestions to get your playlist up and running;
Juice Newton – “Queen of Hearts”
Written by pedal steel guitarist Hank DeVito, “Queen of Hearts” was most famous for its inclusion on the 1981 country rock album Juice by Juice Newton. A breakout track for Juice, who had been releasing solo material for several years without much acclaim, “Queen of Hearts” combined card game references with irresistibly catch Fleetwood-esque country pop riffs; “Playing with the queen of hearts/Knowin’ it ain’t really smart/The joker ain’t the only fool/Who’ll do anything for you”
The Rolling Stones – “Tumbling Dice”
A lazy, mid-tempo shuffle originally composed by Keith Richards under the title “Good Time Woman”, Mick Jagger wrote new lyrics for the track after being inspired by a conversation about the rules of craps. Giant organ swells and gospel vocals are offset by Jagger’s gravelly call to “roll me” and the song heavily references card game slang throughout; “I’m all 6’s, 7’s and 9’s.”
Leonard Cohen – “The Stranger”
Undoubtedly one of his most essential works, “The Stranger” established a theme and style that Cohen would go on to re-visit unwaveringly over subsequent decades. Picking at his guitar like melodic rain, Cohen spins a story into a meaningful ballad peppered with card game references “Like any dealer he was watching for the card that is so high and wild/He’ll never need to deal another.”
The Animals – “House of the Rising Sun”
Oozing class and exceptional lyrics, “House of the Rising Sun” cemented The Animals place as folk legends and changed the face of folk rock as we know it. Referencing a wayward soul spending too much time at a card game establishment, this must be one of the most covered songs in history.
The Eagles – “Out of Control”
The Eagles were so into marathon sessions of poker that they even invented their own version, which they called “Eagle Poker.” After being marginalised as “California laid-back,” Don Henley pursued a western frontier theme in second album Desperado. The track “Out of Control” incorporated card lyrics to fit with this theme; “You got to gamble on your story/You got not guts you get no glory/And I’m bettin’ my money on an ace in the hole/Think I’m getting out of control.”
Sara Bareilles – “Vegas”
Better known for her hit “Love Song”, Bareilles brilliantly captures the feelings of those who dream of escaping to the glittering game city; “Gonna sell my car and go to Vegas/‘cause somebody told me/That’s where my dreams would be.” Soulful lyrics drip with the sadness of changing yourself to accomplish your dreams, while captivating melodies lift it out of the sob story danger zone.
Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia – “Deal”
Originating from Jerry Garcia’s debut solo album Garcia in 1972, “Deal” became a regular fixture on the set list for Grateful Dead concerts. A moderately paced, lively country number with great electric guitar riffs, this is known as one of Garcia’s best vocal work and invokes a sense of playing cards in a wild west saloon; “Goes to show you don’t ever know/Watch each card you play and play it slow/Wait until that deal come around/Don’t you let that deal go down.”