I grew up in the "classic rock" era, but I love music of every genre. I love sharing my old favorites while still discovering new artists.
Money is something we all need. It's easy to think it's the answer to all of our problems when we haven't got it, even though there are plenty of problems that money can't solve.
With money being such an important thing in life, it's not surprising that there are a lot of inspired songs about money.
Please note that the numbering of this list is not a ranking system. This is simply the order in which I came up with the songs. That may say something about how obvious a choice the song is, with the more obscure choices being at the end.
- “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits (1985)
- “Money” by Pink Floyd (1973)
- "Take The Money And Run," by The Steve Miller Band (1976)
- "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars (2010)
- "Forget You" by Cee Lo Green (2010)
- "If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time" by Willie Nelson (1976)
- "Rip It Up" Bill Haley & His Comets (1956)
- "Money Honey" by Delbert McClinton (2002)
- “If You Ain't Got the Do Re Mi” by Woody Guthrie (1940)
- “Brother Can you Spare a Dime” by Dr. John & Odetta (1993)
1. "Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits (1985)
When I think of songs about money, “Money for Nothing,” by Dire Straits, is the first one that pops into my mind. It may seem a bit obvious, and I pride myself on my eclectic musical taste, but hey, I need to try to appeal to the masses here. How else am I going to make any money?
“Money for Nothing” is from Dire Straits' 1985 album Brothers in Arms. The song included a guest performance by Sting providing the background vocals. The songwriting credits are shared between Mark Knopfler and Sting (although Knopfler did most of the writing). It was Dire Straits' most successful single, so I think it made them some money.
2. "Money" by Pink Floyd (1973)
"Money" was written by Roger Waters, it is featured on the album The Dark Side Of The Moon. Released in 1973, The Dark Side of The Moon was Pink Floyd's first number 1 album in the US. It is one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed albums of all time.
3. "Take the Money and Run" by The Steve Miller Band (1976)
"Take the Money and Run" was written by Steve Miller, and it was one of the many hit singles produced by the Steve Miller Band in the 1970s. It was featured on their 9th studio album Fly Like an Eagle, released in 1976. The song peaked at #11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and also charted well in Australia.
4. "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars (2010)
"Billionaire" is the debut single by Travie McCoy. It features vocals by Bruno Mars, which is what really makes the song for me. It is the lead single from McCoy's debut studio album, Lazarus. In the lyrics of the song, McCoy imagines how he could help other people out if he suddenly became a billionaire.
On the off chance that you haven't heard the song before, and you are offended by such things, there is an "F bomb" in the refrain.
5. "Forget You" by Cee Lo Green (2010)
Cee Lo Green collaborated with Bruno Mars, The Smeezingtons, and Brody Brown in the writing of this song. This is the clean version; I think we all know what the title of the original version was. Either way, I think it’s a pretty catchy tune. It was the first single off Green’s album “The Lady Killer,” released in 2010.
6. "If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time" by Willie Nelson (1976)
This song was written by Lefty Frizzel. It was his debut single released in 1950. Frizzel had a No. 1 hit with it. He built on the notoriety and went on to have a successful career.
In 1976, Willie Nelson's cover of the song went to No. 1 on the country chart. It was included on his album, The Sound in Your Mind.
The song has become so closely associated with Willie that many people who weren't around for Frizzel's version are surprised to discover that Willie did not in fact write the song.
7. "Rip it Up" by Bill Haley & His Comets (1956)
Robert Blackwell and John Marascalco wrote "Rip It Up." It's a song about a working man who joyfully spends his weekly pay on a good time.
Little Richard was the first to record it, in June of 1956, but Bill Haley and His Comets were not far behind, releasing their version in the same year.
The song has been covered by many other artists including Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly.
I chose to feature Bill Haley's version here, mainly because I liked the fun, dancing video so much.
8. "Money Honey" by Delbert McClinton (2002)
There are several songs around called "Money Honey." It is such an obvious rhyme. I happen to love this high energy song better than any of the others, probably because I'm such a fan of Delbert McClinton.
Delbert co-wrote the song with his close friend Gary Nicholson. It appears on one of my favorite albums by McClinton, Room to Breathe, released in 2002.
9. "If You Ain't Got the Do Re Mi” by Woody Guthrie (1940)
Woody Guthrie wrote this song during the Great Depression; it warns workers migrating to California from the dust bowl about the hardships that awaited them if they arrived broke.
So many people had already gone to California that restrictions were place on how many could come in. If you got past the border, jobs were hard to come by, and if you could find one, it paid very little.
People would spend what little money they had to make the arduous journey, only to find that they were no better off than they had been back at home.
Guthrie witnessed these things first hand, and documented the things he saw in his songs."If You Ain't Got the Do Re Mi” was first recorded in 1940, on his album “Dust Bowl Ballads.”
10. "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" by Dr. John and Odetta (1993)
Brother Can You Spare a Dime was written in 1931, during the Great Depression. The author Yip Harburg also wrote "It's Only a Paper Moon," and "Over the Rainbow."
Socially aware in his writing, Yip Harburg was a proponent of racial and gender equality long before it was fashionable. He was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. He was not a member of the communist party, but he was a socialist.
This song has been covered many times, by many artists. I chose this version, just because I thought it was so beautiful. It was recorded for an album Strike a Deep Chord: Blues Guitars for the Homeless. The record benefits the homeless both through donation of money and by illustrating the hardship of their daily lives.
Money is certainly a powerful influence in our lives. While it may be true that it can't buy happiness, lack of it can certainly lead to misery. It is no wonder that money is featured so often in song.
© 2018 Sherry Hewins
FlourishAnyway from USA on September 30, 2018:
"Forget You" and "Billionaire" are my personal favorites!
Frances Metcalfe from The Limousin, France on September 19, 2018:
The last one really resonates as there has been such an increase in homeless people. They say you're only one pay cheque away...