Top 10 Money Songs
Money. You know you want it. You wish for and worry over it – everyone does. Even rock stars. After all, if not for music itself, what bigger goal is there for those who seek a career in rock and roll? Sex…drugs…fame, you say? Nah, all that will simply come along once you get your hands on the money. See where we’re going with this yet? That’s right, even after they secure all of the perks cited above, musicians rarely lose their obsession with making or, God forbid, losing money. And that’s why Ultimate Classic Rock had plenty of potential tunes to choose from when assembling this list of the Top 10 Money Songs. Like the old R&B number said, “Money, that’s what I want”…that’s what they all want. And you can take that to the bank!
Why don’t we kick off our list with a band whose ability to make money is perhaps eclipsed only by their ability to blow it (or smoke it, snort it, inject it, etc.): Motley Crue? With this typically simple but infectious ditty from their mass-market breakthrough, 1985’s ‘Theatre of Pain,’ the Crue’s warns us to keep a wary eye on the casino dealer’s hand instead of her cleavage…like that advice ever worked for any member of the band!
You can bet that sort of self-discipline was never a problem for Mr. Sammy Hagar, though because, well, his bulging bank account tells us so! So does this rollicking opener from Hagar’s fourth solo album, 1980’s ‘Danger Zone,’ which wastes not a second with small talk before bursting into action with the following, astute philosophy, clearly close to Sammy’s red, red heart: “I may be crazy but I ain’t no fool.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
The next number on our list of the Top 10 Money Songs was one of several hits spun off of the Steve Miller Band’s blockbuster 1976 LP, ‘Fly Like an Eagle.’ ‘Take the Money and Run’ (for it is that tune we speak of) tells the romantic tale of Billy Joe and Bobby Sue: two, Bonnie and Clyde-like bank robbers bound for Texas, where a detective named Billie Mack apparently awaits to seal their fate, thus making this an evocative outlaw travelogue and a jaunty sing-along hit, to boot.
It’s a well known fact that most of us here at Ultimate Classic Rock learned everything we know about life, the universe and, well, everything from AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ LP; and what we didn’t learn to shut up about we were taught to ask – even when doing so literally crippled our love lives for years to come. Ok, so maybe Angus and his friends forgot to teach us wrong from right. Seriously, though, what DO you do for money, honey? SLAP!
Yet again, we look to a slightly older, shrewder classic rocker for our next dollop of advice, where the Top 10 Money Songs are concerned; and who better to set us straight than that master of dark comedy and wry sagacity, Warren Zevon? Not that the protagonist of Zevon’s 1978 classic, ‘Lawyers, Guns and Money,’ seemed to be making out very well himself in this hilarious international caper, but something tells us he got out of this pickle with the girl and the dough, in the end.
Just what in tarnation, you might ask, was shock rock king Alice Cooper prattling on about on his band’s 1973 No. 1 smash, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’? Basically the outlandish fortunes suddenly heaped upon this group of misfits that most people until recently did not know existed or, if they did, crossed the street to avoid. And nothing better illustrates the band’s rags-to-riches (and soon back-to-rags again) tale than the fact that one-time psych-folk superstar, Donovan, was now making himself available to provide background vocals for ‘Billion Dollar Babies.’
Now, as for the three gentlemen nerds comprising intellectual rockers Rush, we’re ready to bet with the utmost confidence that they were still responsibly balancing their checkbooks well beyond the point where they reached seven or eight figures. And without missing a note during ‘La Villa Strangiato,’ no less! Can’t you see it? Why, even when they concerned themselves with condemning those dirty ‘greenbacks’ at the height of Reaganomics on their 1985 single, ‘The Big Money,’ Messrs. Lee, Lifeson and Peart did so with so much erudite class that not even Wall Street big shots would have banned them from their cocktail parties.
Speaking of fooling the establishment, we can’t think of a single band that beat MTV at their own, “must look great to succeed in the music video era” game than British veterans, Dire Straits, who pioneered the art of strategically replacing their ugly mugs with computer animation eye-candy on the clip for ‘Money for Nothing.’ Even better, Mark Knopfler and co. later walked away with armfuls of astronaut statuettes (and untold millions of dollars, as well) while sending up the very concept of rock stardom in the midst of the most visual decade in rock history. And the chicks? Says here they were FREE!
Alas, absolutely nothing came free during the Beatles’ tragic, historically messy breakup, and this first song in ‘Abbey Road’s’ glorious closing medley spells out the open distrust felt by its composer, Paul McCartney, towards wannabe Beatles manager, Allen Klein, in no uncertain terms. In fact, even the song’s gentle introduction reflects McCartney’s hopeless resignation as vultures like Klein swooped down to pick at the spoils of rotting Apple Corps – making this as alarming and cautionary a reminder of the evils money can bring as there has ever been in rock and roll.
“Cha-ching! Cha-ching!” goes the entirely apropos intro to the headliner of our Top 10 Money Songs: what else but Pink Floyd’s ‘Money.’ Though fundamentally based on a standard twelve-bar blues structure, ‘Money’ utilizes an odd, 7/4 time signature that probably required its players to expend more effort keeping count of in their heads than they would later have to counting all the coinage reaped from its multi-platinum-selling parent album, ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ Or perhaps, that tricky tempo was composer Roger Waters’ cynical mathematical commentary on their label’s accounting practices (i.e. seven for me, four for you)? Heck, whatever conspiracy theory we may come up, the truth is probably far, far weirder when Pink Floyd is in the mix; so let’s just leave well alone count our classic rock blessings while these rockers count their hard earned money.