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Song Analysis Example Essay


You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done.

The song is interesting from a sociological point of view because it speaks of an existing problem in society. The song speaks about gambling and the tricks involved. The song can also be understood as a life lesson where it is brought out as a gambling game. Kenny Rogers talks of “knowing when to hold on to the cards and when to let go.” This can be a lesson teaching people to weigh on life issues whether to hold on to them or to let them go.

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Kenny Rogers is an iconic American singer with 21 hit songs spread across his singing career. He started his singing career as a band member in a band he founded and later became a solo artist. Kenneth Rogers grew up in a public housing project in Houston Texas. His childhood was full of hardships as his parents struggled to raise him and his siblings. Perhaps this is the reason why he sang most songs focusing on real societal issues such as bullying and love. What Kenny Rogers stood for in the society is reflected in the song in that the song talks about the struggles of a gambler; something common with people from poor backgrounds. Rogers came from a hard neighborhood and transformed himself into the king of country music. The song; The Gambler gives a sneak view of how people struggle to earn money.

A concept that comes out of the song is symbolic interactionism. This concept explains that people interact in many ways among them the use of signs or symbols. The theory explains that the language used can be viewed as a symbol. During interactions the sender encodes messages and he/she expects that the receiver decodes the messages as intended so as to understand the message (Conley and Dalton 2011). In the song, The Gambler, Kenny Rogers may have intended to pass the message about life. He may have used gambling symbolically to drive his point home. Symbolism exists in this case wherein his song, Rogers talks about cards and the gambling table. He talks of a man who had been making a living out of looking into people’s eyes. This could be symbolic in that the real meaning is that people should face their challenges with bravery. The aspect of knowing when to walk away and when to run can also be viewed as a symbolical. The real meaning is that some challenges in life may be too big and the best choice one has is not to face them but to walk away from them.

Marxism is a concept that applies to the song. The theory holds that in the society there are people commonly referred to as bourgeoisie who are usually rich and their main goal is to make profits. Then there are people referred to as proletariats; the poor who own nothing. The theory has it that the bourgeoisie use the proletariats for selfish reasons (Giddens, Anthony and Philip 2017). This applies to the song in that it talks of gambling and gamblers. In gambling, there is a rule that states that the house never loses. This is in line with the Marxist theory wherein gambling, the poor usually gamble the little they have and usually get taken by the house which is owned by the rich. Marxism and functionalism relate to each other in that it functionalism provides ways in which several aspects of the social correlates to function as a unit (Wallace and Walter 2017). Functionalism explains that there has to be bourgeoisie and proletariats so that a capitalist society functions well. To maintain a capitalist system, the rich depend on the poor to provide the needed labor force. In a system where there exist on a dominant group, the system will disintegrate.

The concept of postmodernism has strong links to Marxism and interactionism. Postmodernism highlights a departure in the consumer culture. Postmodernism highlights that in modern society, people put a lot of emphasis on entertainment activities (Renshaw et al. 2002). That the activities act as status symbols and identity. This is unlike the past where the profession or the social class were the ultimate status symbols. Kenny Rogers’s song puts forth the issue of gambling which in modern society is increasingly becoming a status symbol. People who go to casinos are seen as people with the money they can afford to lose. Social identity is an aspect of interactionism whereby one compares himself with the rest of society. This means that for people to raise their social identity, they will indulge in postmodernist behaviors. It relates to Marxism through the urge to be better than the rest. This means that people struggle to appear they are well off than others. This is a capitalist’s mindset which is opposite to the communist’s belief that prosperity should be for all.

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Works Cited
Conley, Dalton. You may ask yourself: An introduction to thinking like a sociologist. WW Norton & Company, 2011.
Giddens, Anthony, and Philip W. Sutton. Essential concepts in sociology. John Wiley & Sons, 2017.
Renshaw, Scott W., David L. Altheide, and Stanford M. Lyman. Postmodern existential sociology. Rowman Altamira, 2002.
Wallace, Walter. Sociological theory. Routledge, 2017.

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