The Top 10 Songs About Money
Next to love and heartache, few subjects have inspired songwriters to take pen to paper, notebook or cocktail napkin more than the green.
10. Steely Dan “Black Friday” (1975)
Either Walter Becker and Donald Fagen had a whole lot riding on the stock market in 1975 or they employed their trademark irony to ridicule those who did.
The year this song was released, the S&P had fallen 50% over the previous 24 months. Fortunately, for Steely Dan, retirement was still a half a decade away. Then again, maybe it was the Savings and Loan scandal that forced them back together in 1994 for their Alive in America tour.
When Black Friday comes
I'll stand down by the door
And catch the grey men when they
Dive from the fourteenth floor
When Black Friday comes
I'll collect everything I'm owed
And before my friends find out
I'll be on the road
9. The Carter Family “No Depression in Heaven” (1936)
A far more sincere account of American financial hardship came from the groundbreaking folk act the Carter Family during the thick of the Great Depression. The same year Dorothea Lange's iconic Migrant Mother photograph was released, the Carter family gave hope to the suffering with a promise of a worry-free afterlife.
I'm going where there's no depression
To the lovely land that's free from care
I'll leave this world of toil and trouble
My home's in Heaven, I'm going there
8. Rihanna “Umbrella” (2007)
Much speculation has surrounded the meaning of Rihanna’s breakout hit, from sex to demonic possession to Freemasonry...to the economy? What may surprise you to learn is that Jay-Z, the rapping Bob Rodriguez who teamed up with Rihanna for the Orange Version of "Umbrella", warned the world of the impending financial crisis and was already ahead of the storm. If Ben Bernanke wasn’t already worried about his job security....
No clouds in my storms
Let it rain, I hydroplane in the bank
Coming down with the Dow Jones
When the clouds come we gone, we Rocafella
She fly higher than weather
And G5’s are better, You know me,
An anticipation, for precipitation. Stacked chips for the rainy day...
7. Neil Young “This Note's For You” (1988)
At the tail end of a much-maligned experimental phase, legendary folk rock singer-songwriter took an uncharacteristic foray into R&B (horns courtesy of the Blue Notes) with 1988’s "This Note’s For You." The title track, while low on listenability, did carry Young’s anti-establishment sentiments and even caused quite a stir in the music community.
Railing against the commercialism he saw influencing the industry, the video parodied the pyrotechnics accident that set Michael Jackson’s hair on fire during the filming of a Pepsi (PEP) commercial. Jackson’s legal threats prompted MTV to ban the video although the network later changed its tune, put it in heavy rotation and even awarded it the VMA for Best Video of the Year.
The song also called out artists shilling for corporations like Coca Cola (KO) and Anheuser-Busch (BUD) and the video mocked Bud Light spokesdog Spuds MacKenzie who was featured surrounded by a group of bikini clad babes.
Ain't singin' for Miller
Don't sing for Bud
I won't sing for politicians
Ain't singin' for Spuds
This note's for you
Don't need no cash
Don't want no money
Ain't got no stash
This note's for you
6. Dolly Parton "9 to 5" (1980)
The title song for the classic comedy starring the trifecta of talent Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton (her film debut), with Dabney Coleman as the brilliantly played “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” bossman, "9 to 5" was the anthem of the struggle to shatter the glass ceiling.
Nine to five, for service and devotion
You would think that I
Would deserve a fair promotion
Want to move ahead
But the boss won't seem to let me
I swear sometimes that man is out to get me
5. Jesse James and Cleveland D “Put Your Money on Galleon” (2000)
A favorite among Wall Street traders was a rap song commissioned by hedge fund giant Galleon Group to give itself investment props, like turning its first trade of “100,000 warrants of Intel (INTC)” into $5 billion. Set to the 1934 Shirley Temple hit, “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” the bragadocious ditty became a parody of itself after a $20 million insider trading scandal capsized the good ship Galleon in 2009.
It's the good ship Galleon
When Wall Street has a rally on
When traders trade
Everyone in the place gets paid
To see the Galleon video, click here.
4. Hall & Oats, "Rich Girl" (1977)
Eventually opting for a cliched spoiled daddy’s girl relying on her “old man’s money,” Darrel Hall originally penned this song about a real life overindulged heir of to a fast food fortune who had once dated his long time girlfriend Sarah Allen. “But you can't write, ‘You’re a rich boy’ in a song,” said Hall, “so I changed it to a girl.”
And don't you know, don't you know
That it's wrong to take what is given you
So far gone, on your own
You can get along if you try to be strong
But you'll never be strong
3. Billie Holiday “God Bless The Child” (1941)
Inspired by the phrase "God bless the child that's got his own" which Holiday shouted at her mother one day during an argument over money, the song became her biggest hit, taking the number three spot in Billboard's top songs of 1941.
Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don't ever make the grade
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own
2. Kanye West “Gold Digger” (2006)
A far cry from the Ray Charles song it samples, in which the woman is the one giving the money when her man is in need, “Gold Digga” may have a low PC rating, but it sure is catchy. West actually conceived it to be sung from a female perspective: "I'm not sayin' I'm a gold digger, but I ain't messin' with no broke n-ggas," and wrote it specifically for rapper Shawnna, who passed.
I know somebody paying child support for one of his kids
His baby momma's car crib is bigger than his
You will see him on TV, any given Sunday
Win the Superbowl and drive off in a Hyundai
And the number one song about money is...
1. The Drifters “Money Honey” (1953)
Rolling Stone ranked it 254 among the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and its been covered by two of the greatest artists of all time: Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.
From your landlord to your woman, one simple line in the song says it all:
Money, honey, if you want to get along with me
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