"Through the years he and I were big pals. In fact he tried to get me to record 'The Gambler.' We were somewhere, I don't know, and [Rogers] said ''I've got this song here and I think you should do it."
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Willie Nelson The 53rd Annual CMA Awards - Show
Credit: Photo by Mickey Bernal/WireImage/Getty Images

Willie Nelson may be the Red Haired Stranger, but can you imagine him being The Gambler?

Neither can we, dear readers, neither can we. But as it turns out, a page in music history could have read very differently if the inimitable Willie Nelson had taken up his dear friend Kenny Rogers' request to record what became Rogers' signature song, "The Gambler." Originally written by Don Schlitz and most famously recorded by Rogers, appearing as the eponymous single from his 1978 album The Gambler.

As we learned on a recent segment of the TODAY show with co-host and Southern Living editor-at-large, Jenna Bush Hager, Rogers had asked Nelson to consider recording the now-classic Rogers tune.

Listen to Southern Living's "Biscuits & Jam" podcast to hear interviews from Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Darius Rucker, and more!

"Through the years he and I were big pals. In fact he tried to get me to record 'The Gambler.' We were somewhere, I don't know, and he said ''I've got this song here and I think you should do it," Nelson begins. "And he played it for me. and I said 'you know, it's a great song but I don't think I'll do it,' because I was doing every night a song called the 'Red Headed Stranger,' which has 100 verses in it, it's a long song and I said 'I just don't want to do another long song on my show and I can't quit doing 'Red Headed Stranger,' so he said "okay, I'll record it myself." And so he did and there it is."

"Well, do you regret not doing it or that was Kenny's song?" asks Bush Hager after hearing Nelson's story.

"That was Kenny's song all the way," Nelson replies right away with a wide grin. We can't imagine it differently either.

WATCH: Willie Nelson's Virtual Farm Aid Concert Raises $500,000 to Support Family Farms Right Now

Recently, we hosted Nelson on our podcast, "Biscuits & Jam," where he talked about staying positive, performing with his kids, and of course his beloved tour bus, the Honeysuckle Rose. Listen on Spotify below, or on Apple Podcasts, or everywhere podcasts available.

We don't know about you, but listening to Nelson definitely has us looking forward to being on the road again seeing the non-Gamblin Red Haired Stranger perform.