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