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Kenny Rogers – The Gambler (American Accent Lesson)

Posted On: December 13, 2014

I select songs as examples in accent reduction training sessions based on certain techniques taught in the class. The song below, The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers is an old American song, but contains most of the techniques for general spoken English accent reduction and specific accent reduction for native speakers of Malayalam in Kerala, India.  


How can I use American songs to learn the US accent?


I suggest to take a listen to the song below before reading the lyrics. How much can you understand without the lyrics? Then, play the song again following along to the lyrics below. The lyrics below are marked for special accent reduction techniques. To see an unmarked set of lyrics, click here


Note: Where you see words divided by a slash, that’s where the syllables are broken. Breaking syllables correctly in words will help with pronunciation and enunciation. 



Take a look at the video/listen to the song on YouTube




On a warm sum|mer’s eve|nin’ on a train bound for no|where
I met up with the gam|bler, we were both too tired ta sleep
So we took turns a star|in’ out the win|dow at the dark|ness
‘Til bore|dom over|took us and he be|gan to speak

He said, “Son, I’ve made a life, out|ta rea|din’ peo|ple’s faces
And know|in’ what their cards were by the way they held their eyes
So if you don’t mind my say|in’, I can see you’re out of aces
For a taste of yer whis|key I’ll give you some ad|vice”

So I han|ded him my bot|tle and he drank down my last swal|low
Then he bum|med a ci|ga|rette and asked me for a light
And the night got death|ly qui|et and his face lost all ex|pres|sion
Said, “If you’re gon|na play the game, boy, you got|ta learn to play it right”

You got|ta know when ta hold ’em, know when ta fold ’em
Know when ta walk a|way and know when ta run
You ne|ver coun|cher mo|ney when you’re sitt|in’ at the ta|ble
There’ll be time e|nough fer coun|tin’ when the deal|ing’s done

E|very gam|bler knows that the sec|ret to sur|vi|vin’
Is know|in’ what ta throw a|way and know|ing what to keep
‘Cause e|very hand’s a win|ner and e|very hand’s a lo|ser
And the best tha|cha can hope for is to die in yer sleep

And when he fi|ni|shed speak|in’, he turned back to|wards the win|dow
Crushed out his ci|ga|rette and fa|ded off to sleep
And some|where in the dark|ness the
gam|bler, he broke e|ven
But in his fi|nal words I found an ace that I could keep

You got|ta know when ta hold ’em, know when ta fold ’em
Know when ta walk a|way and know when ta run
You ne|ver coun|cher mo|ney when you’re sitt|in’ at the ta|ble
There’ll be time e|nough fer coun|tin’ when the deal|ing’s done

Repeat above chorus continuously until song ends.


Rest In Peace to Kenny Rogers who passed away at the age of 81 on March 20, 2020. Thank you for sharing your talents with the world! 

Related Posts:
Other songs to listen to are here. 

A list of over 70 words that IT professionals from Kerala, India can practice with video accent lessons

Networked blogs link: http://nblo.gs/121Lk5

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