May 15th, 2004

wha wha what?  / what the hell / menchi

So, I was listening to bad music today...

...because we went out to eat, and where we went, happened to play a lot of... well, let's just call it "non-offensive" music. Stuff that hit the pop charts... at least 20 years ago.

One of the songs they played was that tune we all know and love... Kenny Roger's song, "The Gambler." For some reason, I had always thought Kenny wrote that one. Probably because you look at Kenny Rogers and you just assume he's the sort of guy who'd get on a train, meet up with a professional gambler, drink whiskey with him, and get pat advice, like suddenly time moved backwards into the 1800's. Kenny Rogers just has that type of face you know? Turns out though, Kenny Rogers did not write that song, it was Don Schlitz. Which, I guess makes sense too. Because like, if your parents saddled you with the same last name as shitty beer, you'd probably take revenge and write songs like "The Gambler" too.

I know the song rather well, because my father loved it. Loved it to the point where he played it all the time. Where his record of it wore out and we were forced to buy him the CD, just to save ourselves from hearing the hissing and popping. It's a song my dad would break into on car trips too, which made me want to throttle him at times, but since he was usually driving, I considered it a bad idea. It's not that my father has a bad voice, he actually has a pretty good voice. But...that song goes right up there with songs like "Video Killed The Radio Star." and "Pop Muzak" for songs that get stuck in your head to the point where you need dynamite to blast them out.

It's gotten to the point where I hear the song... but I don't listen to the song. I just sorta tune it out. Or else I find myself humming along to it. Which, is what I was doing today. Eating salad and sorta humming it. Blowing bits of carrot and other salad type stuff around the table, but we won't talk about that.

Then, for some reason, I made the bad mistake of listening to the last verse. Not just sorta having it in my head, like I usually do, but really listening to the words.
So when he�d finished speakin�, he turned back towards the window,
Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep.
And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even.
But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.
and... I guess I'm dense, because for the first time, it hit me.

This dude died.

No, really. The gambler... he died at the end of the song. "And somewhere in the darkness, the gambler he broke even... and in his final words I found and ace that I could keep."

Sorry, final words mean you're dead, you're toast, you're pushing up daisies.

Which basically means, that this guy.. the guy in the song, who had the whiskey bottle, the smokes, and needed the advice, is now sitting on the train, next to a dead guy.

And, you get the impression in the song, that this guy just sorta sat there, smiling, pondering those wise words about knowing when to hold 'em, knowing when to fold 'em, knowing when to walk away, and knowing when to run.

First of all... I assume humans are much like dogs and cats and other animals, in the fact that when death comes, all the muscles relax. I mean, I don't know for sure, because I haven't spent a lot of time around newly dead people. But I have worked for a vet, and I know that when animals die... they smell immedietly, because every bit of waste inside their body comes running out.

Second... you gotta wonder... if you were sitting on a train, next to someone who drank from your bottle, smoked one of your butts, then died, would you really continue sitting there and ponder their words of wisdom? Not me. I'd throw the smokes away, and go rinse out my mouth with listerine or something. Maybe what killed him was on the bottle or the filter. And, like, don't you think you also might... oh, I don't know, alert the conductor that there is now a dead guy on the train?

And, I also think that should I have lived through this experience, I probably wouldn't go writing philosophical songs about it. I'd probably write songs more along the lines of, "So I was on the train and the guy next to me DIED for Christ's sake, and freaked me out!"

I get the impression though, that what Don Schlitz would have done, had this really happened to him, was just sat beside the dead guy smiling slightly, thinking about those wonderful words of wisdom, then when his stop came, gotten up, grabbed his stuff and left the train, figuring, "Eh, not my problem now."

Come to think of it, I could see Kenny Rogers doing that too.

I don't think I'll ever be able to listen to that song again, without picturing someone sitting next to a dead guy, trying to work out the lyrics of the song. Maybe occationally forgetting that the guy next to him is... oh, dead, and maybe tapping him. "So, what do you think about this line... on a warm summers... ooops, sorry, forgot, you're dead!"

And with this thought in my head, I'm going off to bed.
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