Songs for the Recession

October 1, 2011

Some might remember that the “Recession Sessions” got a plug on Freakonomics earlier this year. It left me thinking that times of struggle are a common and popular theme in music, and a soundtrack for a recession could be an interesting compilation project.

Last year, one of the radio hits was “I need a dollar” by Aloe Blacc

I need a dollar dollar, a dollar is what I need
Well I need a dollar dollar, a dollar is what I need
 And I said I need dollar dollar, a dollar is what I need
And if I share with you my story would you share your dollar with me

Bad times are comin and I reap what I don’t sow
 Well let me tell you somthin all that glitters ain’t gold
 It’s been a long old trouble long old troublesome road
And I’m looking for somebody come and help me carry this load

I had a job but the boss man let me go

He said: I’m sorry but I won’t be needing your help no more
I said: Please mister boss man I need this job more than you know
But he gave me my last paycheck and he sent me on out the door

I’d never heard of this next band until recently: they’re singing about the Irish recession although the title could be mistaken for other things.

The Script – For the First Time

She’s all laid up in bed with a broken heart
While I’m drinking jack all alone in my local bar
And we don’t know how
How we got into this mad situation
Only doing things out of frustration

Trying to make it work but man these times are hard

She needs me now but I can’t seem to find the time
I’ve got a new job now on the unemployment line
And we don’t know how
How we got into this mess
Is it god’s test?
Someone help us ’cause we’re doing our best

Trying to make it work but man these times are hard

But we’re gonna start by drinking old cheap bottles of wine
Sit talking up all night
Saying things we haven’t for a while
A while, yeah
We’re smiling but we’re close to tears
Even after all these years
We just now got the feeling that we’re meeting for the first time

She’s in line at the DOLE*
With her head held high
While I just lost my job but
Didn’t lose my pride

But we both know how
How we’re gonna make it work when it hurts
When you pick yourself up
You get kicked to the dirt

Trying to make it work but
Man these times are hard

Still around the UK, Lily Allen gives  snapshot of credit woes and obtaining a mortgage in one verse.

Lily Allen – Everything’s Just Money

Oh Jesus Christ almighty,
Do I feel alright? No not slightly,
I wanna get a flat I know I can’t afford it,
It’s just the bureaucrats who won’t give me a mortgage,
Well it’s very funny cos I got your fucking money,
And I’m never gonna get it just because of my bad credit
Oh well I guess I mustn’t grumble,
I suppose that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Now looking at the Beatles… some of the lyrics are still relevant today.

Beatles – You Never Give Me Your Money

You never give me your money
You only give me your funny paper
And in the middle of negotiations
You break down

I never give you my number
I only give you my situation
And in the middle of investigation
I break down

Out of college, money spent
See no future, pay no rent
All the money’s gone, nowhere to go
Any jobber got the sack
Monday morning, turning back
Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go
But oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go
Oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go
Nowhere to go

One of my favourites is Low Budget by the Kinks.

Cheap is small and not too steep 
But best of all cheap is cheap 
Circumstance has forced my hand 
To be a cut price person in a low budget land 
Times are hard but we’ll all survive 
I just got to learn to economize 

I’m on a low budget 
I’m on a low budget 
I’m not cheap, you understand 
I’m just a cut price person in a low budget land 
Excuse my shoes they don’t quite fit 
They’re a special offer and they hurt me a bit 
Even my trousers are giving me pain 
They were reduced in a sale so I shouldn’t complain 
They squeeze me so tight so I can’t take no more 
They’re size 28 but I take 34 

 

The Boss is back to his best with something a bit more positive than the above:

Bruce Springsteen – We Take Care of Our Own

And finally, a bit of black humour if business gets so bad people start jumping…

Weathergirls – It’s Raining Men

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