Puzzles And Games In Song: Part Two, Beyoncé To Beggar’s Banquet

The musical moments of crosswords, card games and more

Beyonce cowboy hat and glasses poker table with cards and bets mick jagger

by David Ker |
Updated on

Puzzles and games crop up in songs more than you may realise. In Part One we discovered crossword crooners and were regaled about roulette. This time we see what’s on the cards for Beyoncé and how a sojourn in the south of France provided the impetus for The Rolling Stones’ Tumbling Dice.

Texas Hold ’Em

Texas Hold ’Em secured Beyoncé her first no 1 UK single since 2010 (Telephone with Lady Gaga) and is her longest-running chart-topper to date. As with Gaga and Kenny Rogers before her (see Part One), the favourite game of gamblers is used as a metaphor for romance.

The Houston-born singer directs the lyrics to a potential partner, encouraging them to stop playing, lay their cards down and make their intentions known. She’s clearly not a fan of the art of bluffing.

The Puzzle Song

Shirley Ellis sings that the puzzle of her puzzle song is not an easy one to get your head around, and I have to agree.

It contains a tongue twister (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers) and a parlour game suggestion which is sure to be fun for all the family (hold your tongue and say ‘molasses on the table’). Beyond that, its lyrics are of the skipping rope rhyme style which makes up much of the singer’s catalogue.

Check out The Name Game and The Clapping Song for further examples, as well as Ever See a Diver Kiss His Wife While the Bubbles Bounce About Above the Water?, if only for the delightfully unrestrained title.

Jigsaw Puzzle & Tumbling Dice

The Rolling Stones have a history with puzzles. Their 2023 album Hackney Diamonds was announced via a cryptic newspaper advert and they’re even more on theme with the fifth song from their 1968 album Beggar’s Banquet.

The Dylanesque Jigsaw Puzzle contrasts a jigsaw-solving singer with a cast of less composed characters. Mick Jagger delivers a chorus which any lover of putting a picture together will appreciate:

Me, I’m waiting so patiently,
Lying on the floor.
I'm just trying to do this jigsaw puzzle,
Before it rains anymore.

The Stones have never played the song live. By contrast, Tumbling Dice has been a firm feature of their sets since its release in 1972. The track took inspiration from the band’s time on the French Riviera and the casino culture they encountered there.

“I had the theme for it,” Mick Jagger explains. “I didn’t know anything about dice playing, but I knew lots of jargon used by dice players. I’d heard gamblers in casinos shouting it out. I asked my housekeeper if she played dice. She did, and she told me these terms. That was the inspiration.”

Less ‘bet the house’, more bet on the housekeeper then...

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