Lucia has something to say

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Gambler

Know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em. Kenny Rogers. The Gambler. I must have heard it a hundred times in Rwanda. In restaurants. In cars. Over dirt roads. I remember pulling into the airport parking lot, and we were all belting it out one last time. They’ll be time enough for countin’, when the dealin’s done.

It didn’t make sense to me. Rwandans love this song. But then this morning I heard a story on NPR. About how Kenny Rogers. And The Gambler. Are hugely popular in Kenya. Along with tunes by Dolly Parton. Like Coat of Many Colors.

And the story helped me to understand. Why 1970s-80s country ballads. With iconic characters. Like The Gambler. Are popular in East Africa. If you think about it, agriculture-based African societies can relate to songs about farm life. And people living in very poor circumstances, can understand a song about a coat sewn from rags.

My coat of many colors
That my momma made for me
Made only from rags
But I wore it so proudly
Although we had no money
I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me.

It you're interested in listening to the story Country Music in a Far Country, it's here. And, in a case of great minds thinking alike, the photojournalist who was in the car, headed to the airport at the same time, blogged about the same thing here.


Blogger QT said...

Interesting... I noticed whenever I was in Ecuador, I was always puzzled by the American songs they liked - the last time I was there, it was Journey songs. Go figure.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Very interesting Lucia. This kind of thing (what songs are popular and where) would make a fascinating study.

Happy Easter and/or Passover and/or whatever!

4:23 PM  
Blogger meno said...

It's like Beethoven's 9th is so popular in Japan. I read an article about it once, but it's still a puzzlement.

7:12 PM  
Blogger St. Dickeybird said...

Thanks for that! I no longer have any inclination to visit Africa. Dolly Parton or Kenny Rogers? Dealbreakers.

7:20 AM  
Blogger gary rith said...

Maybe its cheesey, but there is great wisdom in this line from Kenny Rogers and the Gambler:

'you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run'

Think quick, use your head, do the right thing at the right time.

11:47 AM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

When I was in Thailand, they played a lot of American songs. One night, I recall hearing "I Know This Much Is True" by Spandau Ballet several times.

I am not a fan of Kenny Rogers particularly and think the song is kind of cheesy ~ but if it says something to the people there, more power to 'em. :)



1:31 PM  
Blogger magickat said...

In Montreal they love them some Michael Jackson. Go figure.

8:52 PM  

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