What does that song mean?

Blues Music For Your Great Recession

Posted Mar 13th 2023, 12:49 by Penguin Pete

Have you hardly got two coins to rub together? Are you so broke, panhandlers offer you money? Most importantly, have the Billionaire Boomer Babies bombed the stock market again, forcing you to be financially inconvenienced through no fault of your own? If so, you may be entitled to play a selection of music to commiserate with your state. Perhaps these songs may inspire you to milk that extra buck out of this miserable capitalist whirlpool, or at the least will be company as you bleakly navigate your way through cash-strapped winter.

Can’t Afford No Shoes – Frank Zappa

From the epic One Size Fits All studio album, naturally. This came out in 1975, the very last studio album to be produced by any line-up of the Mothers of Invention; from now on it would just be Zappa “and his band.” As for this song, it came along during the recession-plagued mid-70s. Then-president Ford was trying to stabilize the economy by handing out “Whip Inflation Now (W.I.P.)” buttons. It didn’t work.

Hard Knock Life – Jay Z

Originally the song “It’s a Hard Knock Life” was from the stage musical Annie. The title is a reference to an old saying, “the school of hard knocks.” Jay-Z came along and sampled the song for his ghetto anthem, and the rest is history. The single “Hard Knock Life” would go on to be certified gold in 1999 and platinum in 2015, a real sleeper hit. It was also nominated for a Grammy in 1999 for Best Rap Solo Performance.

Busted – Johnny Cash

Nothing much, just one more country hard luck story by the Man in Black. This was from his 1963 album Blood, Sweat, and Tears – not to be confused with the band of the same name later founded by Al Kooper. “Busted” was released as a single and crawled up to #13 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart.

Dead End Street – The Kinks

The Kinks were certainly no stranger to singing about the woes of the lower-class life in England. “Dead End Street” reveals that the trope of the cul-de-sac street being a low-rent district holds true in the UK as it does in the US.

Mile End – Pulp

Of course, if you bring up the band Pulp and ask for a poverty song, everyone will recommend “Common People,” because that’s the only song anybody remembers Pulp did. Nuts to that! I’m picking “Mile End” because it’s also a gritty description of poverty living, and was also featured in the soundtrack to Trainspotting.

House Rent Blues – John Lee Hooker

Finally we let the legendary John Lee Hooker get in the last word. Talkin’ ‘bout the back rent, she be lucky to get any front rent! Most of you only know the cover version, where George Thorogood blended this song with “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” But “House Rent Blues” was a stand-alone song by Hooker, before anyone came along to create a medley out of two shorter works.

Well, keep that #stockmarketcrash tag trending, hang onto your job if you got one, and keep shaking your fist at the greedy corporate swine who keep crashing the economy. Because what else can you do?



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