“Kentucky Gambler” is a 1974 song written and performed by Dolly Parton. “Kentucky Gambler” was issued as a track from Dolly Parton’s The Bargain Store album from 1975.
That same year, Merle Haggard and The Strangers covered “Kentucky Gambler” and it was their nineteenth number one song on the country chart. The Merle Haggard and The Strangers version stayed at number one for a single week and spent a total of eleven weeks on the chart.
Coincidentally, Parton’s The Bargain Store album featured a cover of a Haggard composition, “You’ll Always Be Special to Me”. The following year, Haggard would cover another Dolly Parton song, “The Seeker”.
From the album Keep Movin’ On
B-side “You’ll Always Be Special”
Released October 1974
Songwriter(s) Dolly Parton
Producer(s) Ken Nelson. Fuzzy Owen
Merle Haggard – Kentucky Gambler Lyrics
I wanted more from life than four kids and a wife
And a job in a dark Kentucky mine
A twenty-acre farm with a shacky house and barn
That’s all I had and all I left behind
But at gambling, I was lucky, and so I left Kentucky
And left behind my woman and my kids
Into the gay casino in Nevada’s town of Reno
This Kentucky gambler planned to get rich quick
Kentucky gambler, who’s going to love your woman in Kentucky?
Yeah and who’s going to be the one to give her everything she needs?
Kentucky gambler, who’s going to raise your children in Kentucky?
Who’s going to keep them fed and keep them shoes on their feet?
There at the gambler’s paradise, Lady Luck was on my side
And this Kentucky gambler played just right
Hey, I won at everything I played, I really thought I had it made
But I should have quit and gone on home that night
But when you love the greenback dollar, sorrow’s always bound to follow
And Reno’s dreams fade into neon amber
And Lady Luck, she’ll lead you on, she’ll stay awhile, and then she’s gone
You better go on home, Kentucky gambler
But a gambler never seems to stop till he loses all he’s got
And with a money-hungry fever, I played on
I played till I’d lost all I’d won
I was right back where I’d started from
Then I started wanting to go home
Kentucky gambler, there ain’t nobody waiting in Kentucky
When I ran out, somebody else walked in
Kentucky gambler, looks like you ain’t really very lucky
And it seems to me a gambler loses much more than he wins
Much more than he wins