Advisor’s favourite songs about money

By Philip Porado | September 4, 2015 | Last updated on September 4, 2015
3 min read

Heading into the last long weekend of the summer, it’s a little difficult to concentrate on work. Good thing Advisor has this list of list of songs about money, taxes and financial planning to help you stay focused while having a bit of fun. Hum along to the classics and enjoy some surprise musical choices while tidying your to-do list. There’s also trivia about each song — so you can impress your friends and family while sitting around the campfire this weekend.

Advisor’s favourites

Feelin’ a bit skint? Need to dance. Your answer is We Need Some Money by the legendary D.C. go-go band Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers. For an extra trivia point to impress your friends, Chuck coined the now-universal phrase “Good to go” while warming up the crowd for an all-night dance party in the mid-1970s.

No list of money songs is complete without Money, the first hit for Motown founder Berry Gordy’s then fledgling label in 1959. Co-written with Janie Bradford, the song’s been recorded by dozens of artists, including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Doors. By far, the quirkiest version was released by the Flying Lizards in 1979.

Read: A fistful of after-tax dollars: top tax movie ideas

Taxman, one of two compositions George Harrison contributed to the Beatle’s 1966 Revolver album, features Paul McCartney’s glissandi bass line that’s said to be a tribute to Motown studio staple James Jamerson. McCartney also plays the guitar solo; apparently George was too worn out protesting England’s high marginal tax rates to lay down his chops.

Not to be left out, the Kinks’ Ray Davies also wrote a tax protest tune in 1966. Sunny Afternoon is a story form about a rich man who can’t afford to take his yacht out of harbour thanks to the taxman. Ironically, the tune was a favourite of DJs on the U.K.’s unlicensed pirate radio stations, which operated from ships anchored just over international waters boundaries.

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And, while American expats may have been exempt from Britain’s tax regime, that didn’t stop London resident Jimi Hendrix from venting his hatred of the IRS with the blistering instrumental Tax Free.

If your bills are too high and you need sympathy, look no further than Kurtis Blow. His early rap anthem The Breaks tells you that when your girlfriend leaves you, the taxman calls and loan sharks show up at your door, the appropriate response is to “wave your arms from side to side.” Well, it’s worth a try.

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Or, if rap’s not your speed, here are some priceless lyrics from the Man in Black himself. Johnny Cash’s After Taxes tells you that what’s left in your pay envelope might not fund your dreams, much less the new fence for your farm.

Thankfully, the best things in life really are free. And that’s proven with a little language twist. In Portuguese, the word “Estate” means “Summer.” So the word we North Americans associate with wills, heirs and legacies is known elsewhere as the title of a lovely ballad from Brazil’s Bossa Nova era. Here’s Joao Gilberto’s classic rendition. What better way to say goodbye to summer than with this touching lament to lost love.

Read: Margin Call holds surprising truths about life on Wall Street

Do you have a favourite financial song that’s been left off the list? We’d love to hear about it. Leave us a note in the comments or send us a tweet.

Philip Porado