One of the nation’s oldest brands of playing cards celebrates i8ts 125th birthday this year. According to the June 7 issue of The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bicycle card company based in Erlanger, Kentucky is planning several promotions to honor its 125th year in business. The most intriguing promotion involves hand carving 125 limited edition card boxes from the original hardwood floor from the company’s original warehouse. The sets will be made available as collector’s items at some time in 2010.
As employees are hand carving those special card boxes, I offer this play list for their listening pleasure. The set features song titles with games that can be played using the standard 52-card deck.
10. Concentration Moon by Frank Zappa: The song is a slow anti-aging rant, on which Zappa says, “Wish I was back in the alley with all of my friends, Running free with my hair growing out.” The card game involves turning all 52 cards face down, trying to match them according to number after briefly looking at each one.
9. Cold Gin by Kiss: The tune is an early rocker from the band’s self-titled debut album. The game is similar to rummy, where each player must take a card from the discard stack or from the deck and try to match them by suit or number. The round ends when one player runs out of cards.
8. Queen of Spades by Styx: The track appears on the Pieces of Eight, the album that spawned the hits Blue Collar Man and Renegade. The game of spades requires a partner and the accumulation of as many spades as possible, as long as you don’t get stuck with the queen in your hand at the end of the round.
7. Three Hearts by Bob Welch: The song is the title track from the former Fleetwood Mac vocalist’s follow-up to French Kiss, which featured Ebony Eyes. The game is similar to spades, only the points are accumulated from hearts rather than spades.
6. Solitaire by Wilco: Jeff Tweedy could have placed this acoustic gem right on Sky Blue Sky, but it does provide a nice complement on the electric pop of Wilco the Album. The game of course is played alone, either with a deck or on the computer. You can’t cheat on the computer version, but you get to see the cards bounce when you do beat it.
5. 21 and Over by The Romantics: Before the band scored with smash hits like Talking in Your Sleep and What I Like About You, they did new wave/punkish stuff like this track. The game is won by whichever player gets closest to 21 after getting or refusing cards from the dealer.
4. Blackjack Davy by Taj Mahal: Fellow folk singer Woody Guthrie called the song Gypsy Davy, but in both versions a wife leaves her husband and baby to run off with a black man. Blackjack is a card game very similar to 21.
3. Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel: The title track from the duo’s final album is beautifully crafted with Simon’s comforting lyrics and Garfunkel’s soothing vocal. Bridge is a card game involves east and west partners bidding against north and south partners.
2. Poker by Electric Light Orchestra: The tune is Jeff Lynne’s best rocker on Face the Music, which featured the orchestral hits Evil Woman and Strange Magic. The game has many varieties and is broadcast regularly on television sports stations such as ESPN.
1. Masters of War by Bob Dylan: This Freewheelin’ track is Dylan’s most scathing rant against war. The card game, played primarily by kids, simply awards each hand to whichever of the two players has the higher card.