It’s tax season again, and as we rush to get our returns finished, we can listen to some songs that feel the pain of all our mounting money problems, namely rising gas prices, student loans, bills, and borrowed money.
The Beatles – “Taxman”
The quintessential ode to unfair taxation, George Harrison wrote “Taxman” as a complaint against the 95% supertax high earners such as himself and his bandmates were paying in the mid-60′s. The opening track on “Revolver,” “Taxman” has gone on to become one of Harrison’s most beloved tracks, and a breakthrough in his songwriting capabilities. Despite its Indian influence, a culture Harrison was just starting to become involved in, the fiery guitar solo is actually played by Paul McCartney. The “Mr. Wilson/Mr.Heath” backing vocals were John Lennon’s suggestion, name checking the heads of the Labour and Conservative parties, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath.
Spinal Tap – “Gimme Some Money”
“This Is Spinal Tap” was the perfect satire of not only British heavy metal bands, but of the entire music industry in general, covering everything from strategizing A&R people to band wagon music scenes. Spinal Tap (or the Thamesmen as they were known in their early days), do a terrific paraody of British invasion groups with what was their first big hit, “Gimme Some Money,” a song meant as an obvious inverse of the ideals of a song like “Can’t Buy Me Love.”
Beastie Boys – “Skills to Pay the Bills”
Possessing the skills to pay the bills is essential during tax season. However if you’re not well versed in how to file your tax return, there’s always Tax Act or Turbo Tax. The phrase was originally used to subtitle a remix of “Pass the Mic,” but the Beastie Boys loved the line so much they made it into its own song. Hiding away on the “So What’cha Want” single, “Skills to Pay the Bills” contains all the elements of their early 90′s period, distorted vocals, scratched in flute samples, live jazz-based instrumentation, and killer rhymes.
The Psychedelic Furs – “All That Money Wants”
For when the “city sky comes down like rain,” “All That Money Wants” is a song for when it feels like money is beginning to take control of life. The song is a pretty underrated single from the Psychedelic Furs, featured as the ‘previously unreleased track’ off their 1988 singles collection, “All of This and Nothing.”
Cat Stevens – “Foreigner Suite”
Like many of his contemporaries including the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and Rod Stewart, Cat Stevens became a tax exile in the 70′s, moving to Brazil to avoid the overwhelming taxes imposed on high income earners in England. Stevens recorded the “Foreigner” album in Jamaica which opens with this 18 minute suite that covers the entire first side of the original LP. Aside from Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” for which Stevens joined Joe Satriani in suing them over, the suite is an obvious influence on Sufjan Stevens’s epic “All Delighted People,” with its classic soft rock progression, airy female backing vocals, and its long, ever changing stature.
The Notorious B.I.G. – “Mo Money Mo Problems”
70′s rockers moving out of the country to avoid taxation was furthermore proof to that old adage…”Mo Money Mo Problems.” The song was the first Biggie Smalls song released after his death in 1997 and was the first of several posthumous hits for the slain rapper. Stuffed to the gills with late 90′s hip-hop glamour, the song rode a Diana Ross sample all the way to number one, replacing Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You.” It was a real Biggie kind of a summer.
The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
Being an adult is hard, and its that progression from teenage angst into adult problems that are the National’s bread and butter. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” deals with relationship and money problems containing the line, “I still owe money to the money to the money I owe,” recalling the resigned frustration of debts and deadlines.
Bloc Party – “Price of Gas”
And to think, gas cost about an average of $2.30 when Kele Okereke wrote the lyrics to “Price of Gas.” The financial woes brought about during tax season seem to be at and all time high this year with the price of gas coming dangerously close to breaking its previous records. A song like “Price of Gas” carries with it a troubled tension that all drivers have been feeling lately, waiting impatiently for the gas price bubble to burst.
Wu Tang Clan – “C.R.E.A.M.”
Cash really does rule everything around us, and there’s no clearer realization of that fact than organizing our finances in tax season. Since its release in 1994, “C.R.E.A.M.” has become a touchstone in hip hop and being referenced in countless rap songs and films. The group’s second single, “C.R.E.A.M.” was also important for its introduction of Method Man and Raekwon to several listeners, two names that would become hip hop heavyweights in the years to come.
T.Rex – “Ripoff”
For those who work jobs that don’t remove their taxes for them, paying the government in April can feel like a huge ripoff. For T.Rex, it was the ass kicking closer of their 1972 classic, “Electric Warrior.” Glam rock was just starting to get into full swing and Marc Bolan ended up becoming a pioneer in the budding genre, a far cry from his psych folk days as Tyrannosaurus Rex in the 60′s.
Barrett Strong – “Money (That’s What I Want)”
And for some of us, the government may actually be paying us, which is something we all want. Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” was a unique tune in 1959, an era littered with love songs and not much else, this song gave its praise to the almighty dollar. Followed by countless cover versions, it has become an American classic.
That’s all for this week. Good luck in getting the IRS off your ass.