Home / Blogs / Solitaire in Song: A Musical Journey Through a Classic Game
By Mike - 03/29/2023
In previous articles on this blog, we have covered the origins and history of Solitaire, observed how the classic card game has been used in TV and movies, and we have even illustrated how playing Solitaire can have a positive effect on your mental health. So yes, there is no doubt that the game of Solitaire is amazing on just about every front, but today we are going to explore some uncharted territory.
There are a few people in the world who say they don’t like or don’t care about music, but the majority of humans recognize the powerful, emotional connection it can form between people and groups. Especially when it mentions a card game you hold near and dear to your heart. You can probably see where this is going by now…
Today, we are going to provide you with an overview of several sonically significant songs about Solitaire! When I first set out to write this article, I thought there might only be a handful. How many songs could there possibly be that mention Solitaire?
Many. There are many songs that mention Solitaire.
If this subject interests you, just go over to Genius.com (after you finish this article) and type Solitaire. You might want to make sure your scrolling finger is warmed up though because it’s about to get a workout. And without further ado, let’s take a look at some songs that feature Solitaire!
First up we have a track from the king himself, Elvis Presley. This is a great song that was unfortunately not deemed iconic enough by Baz Luhrmann to be featured in the Elvis biopic he released last year. But hey, maybe it’s for the best. I sat through all three hours of that movie and didn’t find much to like outside of the music.
Elvis’s Solitaire is actually a cover of a Neil Sedaka song from 1972, which is about a man who closes himself off to love and the world around him, choosing instead to play Solitaire “while life goes on around him everywhere”. We’ve all been there.
This song has also been covered by other artists including Shirley Bassey, The Carpenters, Barry Manilow, and many more.
Taylor Swift’s Dear Reader is the final song on the extended “3 AM Edition” of her 2022 album Midnights. If you aren’t a Taylor Swift fan, you’re probably aware of her tour that crashed Ticketmaster with rabid fans trying to purchase tickets. That was for this album.
Dear Reader is a song in which Swift herself attempts to give her fans advice under the guise of an advice columnist. However, the chorus of the song is “Never take advice from someone who’s falling apart”, which reveals that she’s probably not the person to turn to when you need help.
The lyric that earned this song its place on this list is “No one sees when you lose when you’re playing Solitaire” which is 1) true, and 2) very sad in the context of this song. Somebody give TayTay a hug.
The iconic American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers appears on this list for their song Tear. This track from their 2002 album, By the Way, is about the grandeur of life, and how special it is to be a part of the world. Even when it doesn’t feel that way.
The opening verse has the line “I can see clearly now that this is not the place for playing Solitaire”, which is singer/songwriter Anthony Kiedis’s way of saying he’s come to the realization that life is too sweet to waste. However, there’s probably no issue in taking some time to play Solitaire in between all of those bouts of livin’ life to the fullest. Everybody needs a break sometimes!
There are plenty of songs on this list that I personally enjoy, but seeing this one come up on this particular list was an unexpected delight for me. I love Alvvays, and In Undertow is one of the first songs of theirs that I heard. I’d highly recommend taking the time to listen to this one if you only listen to a few songs on this list.
This dreamy synth-pop tune is the first track on Alvvays’ second album, Antisocialites, and is about two people who are at a crossroads. One of them has done something that has caused a rift to form between them that can’t be mended. The wronged party makes a few suggestions for the other person to do with their newfound free time, “meditate, play Solitaire, take up self-defense”.
It’s a powerfully sad song depending on how you view the situation, but the delivery of the vocals and the backing music convey a feeling of hope or positivity, even in the chorus. “There’s no turning back after what’s been said”.
You might know them as Jimmy Fallon’s house band on The Tonight Show, but The Roots have been around since 1987 and is regarded by many as one of the greatest hip-hop bands of all time.
In Walk Alone, band member Truck North uses a few card game analogies to describe how he has come to deal with life as a result of the situations he has faced.
“Living life without a care, mean poker face
But I’m forced to play Solitaire ‘till I get up out of here”
Truck hides his feelings and emotions behind his “poker face”, and he feels that he’s going to be alone till the end, like a person playing a game of Solitaire.
Let’s go back to the late 60s for a psychedelic track from the iconic band The Doors. Unhappy Girl is a track from their second album, Strange Days, which was released in 1967. Now I’m not from the 60s, but even I can appreciate the very specific sound this track brings. I love a spooky piano sound.
Unhappy Girl is a song about a woman who has closed herself off to life, love, and everything around her. The opening verse says:
“Unhappy Girl, Left All Alone
Playing Solitaire, Playing warden to your soul”
Solitaire is used again in this song to symbolize solitude and seclusion, which is a fair parallel to make. But come on, who wants to be around people ALL the time, am I right?
Our next song brings us to a member of the Rat Pack. It’s Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. The iconic crooner has no shortage of credits or acclaim to his name, but we’re going to highlight him once more right here for his song, It Never Entered My Mind.
It Never Entered My Mind is from Sinatra’s 1949 album Frankly Sentimental (apparently puns were just as fun and powerful in the 40s as they are now) and is about a man, probably Frank himself, reflecting on a relationship that has ended. The opening of the song says:
“Once I laughed when I heard you say
That I’d be playing Solitaire
Uneasy in my easy chair
It never entered my mind”
This is a rough one, Frankie.
Now, I realize that outside of the name, this next song might not really be for the target demographic of this blog. And to be honest, it’s not really my cup of tea either. That’s totally fine, but a song called Solitaire with thirteen MILLION views on YouTube is significant to this article any way you slice it.
This song is performed by Gucci Mane and features Migos as well as Lil Yachty. It was the first single on Gucci Mane’s 2018 album Evil Genius and relates how he passed time while incarcerated (playing Solitaire) to his “bracelet full of Solitaires” after he got out. The plural Solitaires are presumably diamonds, which is a wordplay on one of the suits in a deck of cards.
His Solitaires are very extravagant though.
Our final song is one that might not be immediately recognizable to you. However, it plays a pretty significant part in a film that has gone down in history as one of the best of the modern era. That same film is also one we previously covered in our article “Cinematic Solitaire”, which you should also check out!
In Quentin Tarantino’s magnum opus, Pulp Fiction, there is a scene where Bruce Willis’s character Butch drives away from a crime scene after bringing Vincent’s character arc to a close. The stress he felt before that point is seemingly gone, and he’s happily singing along to The Statler Brothers’ Flowers on the Wall. Butch sings along:
“Playing Solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one
smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo”
His voice goes extra low for “kangaroo” in a playful manner, but then he makes eye contact with Marcellus Wallace, his former boss who he double-crossed. Things take a violent turn from there.
And with that, we can disembark the Tune Train and bring our musical journey to an end. We hope you enjoyed this article, and go listen to some music. Music is great.