From time to time, I sit down and cruise through YouTube and amuse myself with songs I like and haven’t heard in a while. My days of commuting and listening to the radio every day are in my rearview mirror so to speak, so I use YouTube a lot to revisit my favorites. That led me to write this post about my favorite “money songs”, most of which you probably have heard yourself if not when they were popular but in some cases on the elevator as they might now be part of the “Muzak family” by now.
So here are 12 great picks on my list of money songs that can speak to you about life, money, and lessons to be learned.
12 of My Favorite Money Songs
1. “For The Love Of Money” by The O’Jays
The O’Jays had a big hit with “For the Love of Money” even with its not so friendly seven minute run on AM radio The title of the track springs from the Bible “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”. The memorable lyrics detail just how far humanity will sink in pursuit of money in what the song calls “mean green”. What will people do for the love of money, apparently just about anything say the O’Jays. It’s one of the classics of all 70’s songs.
2. “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Barrett Strong
An early Motown classic which really helped make Motown a household name is a bluesy tune that was first done by Singer Barrett Strong and covered by numerous artists since, including one great version from the Beatles. “Money (That’s What I Want)” tells how the need for lots of cold hard cash is worth more than any of your emotions. The line, “Your lovin’ gives me such a thrill / But your love don’t pay my bills” is a statement that doesn’t endear anyone to a romantic partner then or now. The writing team of Strong and Whitfield went on to write other classics like “I Heard It through the Grapevine”, “War” and “Ball of Confusion”.
3. “Money Honey” by Clyde Mc Phatter and the Drifters
The Drifters, legendary group from the 50’s and 60’s, hit it big with the story about a guy who just can’t catch a break. He finds himself lacking the one thing everyone wants from him and that’s “Money Honey”.
If you are asking your significant other for rent money, you’re probably going to regret it and soon you may be out on the streets looking for a new place to live! The moral of this song is that you should latch onto a mate with money of their own. The song does have great rhythm and production, but in “Money Honey”, most memorable is that money’s the joke and the listener is always the punchline. Come to think of it, it’s not very funny because it is so true.
4. “Money” by Pink Floyd
You don’t have to be Pink Floyd fan to recall their super hit “Money”. From the sounds of the cash register and other effects “Money” is more like a symphony backed by a driving base guitar line making Roger Waters’ composition an all-time great money tune.
5. “Money, Money, Money” by ABBA
The Swedish super group broke their mold of light Euro-pop when they did this one that turned into a big hit. “Money, Money, Money” first appeared on ABBA’s 1976 album “Arrival”, and its lyrics talked of the disparity between rich and poor. ABBA created a synth-heavy disco sound which was right in tune with the era. Its style of a mix of jangly piano and guitar which along with the lyrics make it totally one of the most memorable money songs of its time.
6. “Money Changes Everything” by Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi has some tender ballads in her repertoire, but this one gets right to the point. You sometimes let your wallet rule your heart and “money changes everything” doesn’t it and not always for the better. There are even some things that money can’t change even if you think it can!
7. “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits
Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler’s guitar lead and vocals give one a perspective of what it must be like to be a rock star with loads of money, a fantasy for many but a reality for a few like him and his band.
8. “She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer
This one is really personal for so many, a story of the struggle to make a living for so many hard working women. It’s a real grind and most people, even if they hate to admit it, need a little respect and good treatment when they work so hard just to pay those bills. Donna Summer’s tune spells it right out!
9. “Lawyers Guns and Money” by Warren Zevon
The iconic Zevon (who gave us “Werewolves of London”) stresses that money often is necessary to get out of a serious jam (along with lawyers and maybe guns too!). Let’s hope that it never comes down to all three for you and me.
10. “Take the Money and Run” by The Steve Miller Band
The Steve Miller Band gives some advice that I must admit if given the opportunity might just be the best advice around. If you happen to be the recipient of some good fortune, it might just be best to quit when ahead. Here’s special honorable mention to one of my favorite movies and that’s Woody Allen’s very funny film of that same name.
11. “You Never Give Me Your Money” by The Beatles
My list of great songs just can’t ever be complete without a Beatles tune and this one is a perfect statement about money and relationships. Don’t count on changing this title from “never” to “always”. It just never happens that way.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find a good video of the Beatles’ original, but here’s Paul McCartney performing it as part of a medley.
12. “Money Talks” by AC/DC
AC/DC’s 80’s hit blatantly says that when you have the bucks, you get the girls, the cars, and just about anything you want! Materialism at its finest, or is it at its worst? AC/DC pounds that message into your brain like only they can.
There are literally hundreds of songs that talk about money, even if the word isn’t exactly in its title. After all, money is one of the biggest topics composed about along with love I suppose. Sometimes it’s both at the same time as evident in my list here.
Do you have a list of favorites on money or any specific subject that makes you think as well as tap your foot? I’d love to know if you can add to my list or share some great songs with me and others. It’s sometimes good to veg a bit and let the music take you away!