Happy April 15th! Turn out those wallets and dig through those pockets for the last bit of change you’ve got, because the Taxman is coming. If today’s got you feeling broke down and poor, then check out Elmore’s list of songs about money.
The Beatles may have been ridiculously rich international superstars, but they were also hit by the Taxman. Really. If you don’t believe us, just listen to Harrison’s angry denunciation of the tax system.
“Money (That’s What I Want)”—Barrett Strong
This song has the singer demanding “a lotta money,” and it looks like it worked, because this 1959 song became the first hit record for Motown, which, as we all know, got plenty of the green stuff.
“Eat the Rich”—Aerosmith
For a band that’s as ridiculously rich as Aerosmith, it’s pretty ironic that they had a song encouraging listeners to “eat the rich.” With a chorus of “Eat the rich; there’s only one thing they’re good for/Eat the rich; take one bit now—come back for more/Eat the rich; I gotta get this off my chest/Eat the rich; take one bit now, spit out the rest,” perhaps Aerosmith wants its fans to take a bite out of them?
“The Gambler”—Kenny Rogers
You just need to know “when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run,” according to Rogers’ gambler from the title. The singer meets a gambler on a train, who gives him a bit of card-handling advice in exchange for some whiskey.
“I Wanna Be Rich”—Calloway
This R&B duo didn’t have much success with their recording career, but this 1991 song was their major hit.
This top 20 Billboard hit came straight off of the band’s highly acclaimed 1973 The Dark Side of the Moon album. Noted for its sound effects and unusual time signature, “Money,” which makes fun of the fuss we make about capital, was on an album which sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.
“Satisfied Mind”—Jeff Buckley
Buckley’s “Satisfied Mind” exhibits some stone-faced wisdom about the peace of mind that cannot be bought with money.
“9 to 5”—Dolly Parton
In this song, the over-the-top Southern music queen sings the hardships of working that “9 to 5” while still hoping you’ll achieve those dreams. The song was written for Parton’s 1980 comedy film of the same name and snagged an Academy Award nomination and four Grammy Award nominations, with a win for “Best Country Song” and “Best Country Vocal Performance, Female.”
“Worker’s Song”—Dropkick Murphys
Of course the Dropkick Murphys have a blue-collar, working-class anthem for the workers. Why wouldn’t they? Taken off of 2003’s Blackout, this song aims right at those everyday worker bees up in the Northeast.
“Money, Money, Money”—ABBA
This 1976 follow-up to the ever-popular “Dancing Queen” tells the tale of a woman who laments her poor financial situation and dreams of being a part of “the rich man’s world,” where everything is sunnier and easier. Not as cheery as ABBA’s other popular songs, “Money, Money, Money” was still a hit nonetheless.
“She Works Hard for the Money”—Donna Summer
This disco queen was already a hit-maker, but Summer struck gold with this hit off of her eleventh studio album of the same name. With a chorus of “She works hard for the money/So hard for it honey/She works hard for the money/So you better treat her right,” Summer had an unforgettable hit on her hands.
This doesn’t make the list of MJ’s more popular songs, but this cynical song makes our list for being all about the dough. In the chorus, Jackson sings, “Anything, anything, anything for money/Would lie for you, would die for you/Even sell my soul to the devil.” Wait, is this the same guy who sang “ABC?” Must be all that money…
“Take the Money and Run”—Steve Miller Band
This song plays out like a story from an old-time Western, with a listless couple who end up shooting and robbing a man and going on the run. With a detective hot on their tails, the couple heads down south and keeps running—hey, everybody needs to make a living, right?
“Free Money”—Patti Smith
Everybody wants to be a big winner, especially the speaker of Smith’s “Free Money.” The speaker goes to sleep with dreams of dollar bills floating around their head.
“Big Casino”—Jimmy Eat World
This get-rich-quick anthem tells a story of riches and success. In the chorus, the singer proclaims, “I’ll accept with poise, with grace/When they draw my name from the lottery/And they’ll say ‘All the salt in the world couldn’t melt that ice.’/I’m the one who gets away/I’m a New Jersey success story/And they’ll say, ‘Lord, give me a chance to shake that hand.”
“A Poor Man’s Roses”—Patsy Cline
This popular Patsy Cline song once again asks the immortal question: do you choose love or money? In it, the singer is caught between “a poor man’s roses” and “a rich man’s gold.”
“Takin’ Care of Business”—Bachman-Turner Overdrive
This one is pretty much a classic. We’ve heard this blue-collar working anthem everywhere—commercials to TV shows to movies—since it first came out in 1973.
“For the Love of Money”—The O’Jays
It’s all about the chorus in this song, a classic Grammy-nominated soul/funk jam that’s all about … well, you know.
Here we go again, folks. Yet another song from yet another popular band that decries money. Originally released on 1990’s The Razor’s Edge and then later released as a single, this song sports a chorus of “Come on, come on, love me for the money/Come on, come on, listen to the money talk.”
“The Money Will Roll Right In”—Nirvana
This song is no surprise to Nirvana fans, who know the band’s complicated relationship with all the riches, fame and popularity that came with the music. This very cynical, very tongue-in-cheek song has Cobain singing, “I want to be a star, I’m going to have a car/And you’ll have to admit, I’ll be rich as shit/I’ll just sit and grin, the money will roll right in.”