We don’t often think about it, but everyone has some weirdness around money.
Money, so far as I’m concerned, is neutral. It isn’t anything, specifically.
But even that statement is controversial, because you just said in your mind, “no, money is a tool” or “money makes the world go around.”
But as you’re about to see, everyone has their own ideas and thoughts on money. And, they are positively weird.
So, let’s look at the best songs about money, the good and bad side of that dollar bill and what it says about humanity.
“Money” by Pink Floyd
Song year: 1973
It feels like a sin to begin this list with any other song. If you’ve ever listened to classic rock radio, then it’s unlikely you missed out on this one.
There are many many clichés associated with money, as you can see reflected in the lyrics of this song.
Take these lines for example:
“Money, so they say / Is the root of all evil today / But if you ask for a rise, it’s no surprise / That they’re giving none away.”
Ever heard people say something like that? I know I have.
In Pink Floyd’s “Money”, guitarist David Gilmour shares his cynicism about currency.
“For The Love Of Money” by The O’Jays
Song year: 1973
The O’Jays’ “For The Love Of Money” is a seven-minute epic, and the cynicism exhibited here seems to echo that of Floyd’s.
Either that, or this is a relatively conservative and religious view of money, which it could be.
But its references to stealing, robbing and cheating certainly serves to highlight how money can make people crazy.
The key line, of course, is this: “Don’t let, don’t let, don’t let money rule you.”
This is a catchy song that can easily get stuck in your head. The reworked Bulletboys hair metal version isn’t half bad either.
“Bright Future In Sales” by Fountains Of Wayne
Song year: 2003
My favorite Fountains Of Wayne track, “Bright Future In Sales” is about a salesman who can’t stop drinking. It’s a catchy power pop anthem about white collar office workers.
Is it a tribute? Is it a satire? That’s anybody’s guess. And, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a satire. You can’t put it passed Fountains Of Wayne.
I guess you could also make the case that it’s a warning against workaholism and alcoholism, as the two can sometimes go hand in hand.
“Money, Money, Money” by ABBA
Song year: 1976
Another unforgettable song about money, ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money” asks what it would be like to be rich and have money to throw around.
Is there a bit of envy going on here? Could be.
To be fair, money can give people more options. The other side of it, however, is that money can also bring bigger problems with it.
So, I don’t know how funny it is in a rich man’s world, but from the outside looking in, it might seem like endless fun.
“Mo Money, Mo Problems” by The Notorious B.I.G.
Song year: 1997
Note: The lyrics in this song may not be appropriate for children.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like this list would be complete without list late 90s hip hop anthem.
This song was released posthumously, and features Puff Dady and Mase. The beat features samples of Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out.”
And, wouldn’t you know it, this single is considered one of the most successful in hip hop history.
I don’t think B.I.G. would be rolling over in his grave. But that’s just my opinion.
“Money (That’s What I Want)” by Barrett Strong
Song year: 1959
You might be more familiar with the Flying Lizzards’ version, but this song originated with Motown singer-songwriter Barrett Strong.
And, there aren’t any hidden meanings in this song. It’s about wanting a lot of money. For what, only god knows.
But for those times when you wish you were rich then this is a good song to put on.
“She Works Hard For The Money” by Donna Summer
Song year: 1983
Here’s another song about money you’re likely to have heard.
This 80s dance hit is about a blue-collar woman and apparently it was based on an encounter Summer had with a restroom attendant.
So, this is a tribute to everyone who works hard every single day to earn a living wage. Turn it up!
“Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)” by Pet Shop Boys
Song year: 1986
Musically and lyrically, “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)” is a bit of an odd song.
Apparently, the song is about two “losers” who are scheming to make money (one who apparently has the brains and the other the brawn). Songwriter Neil Tennant explained that the two are doomed to failure.
Some fans viewed this as a materialistic anthem, while others took it as satirical. The Pet Shop Boys, however, didn’t like it when people thought of it as a satire, because before they knew it, they were labeled as ironists.
Whatever the case, the song tells a fun little story, don’t you think?
“Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits
Song year: 1985
“Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism and censorship in recent years (but mostly because the song has been misunderstood).
I think you can take the song at face value, but to go a little deeper, songwriter Mark Knopfler explained that it’s a song about a guy that worked at the hardware department in an appliance store.
The song is entirely from this man’s perspective. And, apparently, Knopfler listened to the man talk and used a lot of the language he used as lyrics for the song.
With an unforgettable guitar hook and Sting on the backing vocals, this is an 80s classic.
“You Never Give Me Your Money” by The Beatles
Song year: 1969
Is there a single subject the original pop group, The Beatles, didn’t cover? It would appear not, as they make practically every list we make.
“You Never Give Me Your Money” was written by McCartney shortly after he got married. Lennon and McCartney were about to lose control of Northern Songs, their publishing company.
So, it’s fair to say things were getting kind of messy with the band. The other members wanted manager Allen Klein to step in and help with financial matters.
These and other real-life incidents made their way into the song, making it kind of a melting pot of ideas.
Regardless, it seems the song is about mistrust.
“Money Changes Everything” by Cyndi Lauper
Song year: 1984
The second verse elaborates on the theme by talking about how friendships can also change based on the flow of money.
I guess, in a way, this is a cautionary message. And, again, it certainly points to the weirdness we all have around money.
It’s possible you’ve never even thought about the message in this song because of how catchy it is. Musically, it seems to segue nicely with “Girl Just Want To Have Fun.”
“It’s Money That Matters” by Randy Newman
Song year: 1988
The narrator of this song is in search of truth. And, he asks everyone he knows what it’s all about. But it turns out they don’t have a satisfactory answer for him.
And, as he observes the people around him, he realizes he’s doing better off than a lot of other people he knows, and in a fair world, they would all be doing better than he is.
So, he concludes “It’s money that matters.”
Fittingly, this song features Mark Knopfler on the guitar.
“Take The Money And Run” by Steve Miller Band
Song year: 1976
It’s unlikely that you haven’t heard of Steve Miller Band’s “Take The Money And Run”, or for that matter, what it’s about.
But if you’ve never read the lyrics, the song tells the story of the characters Billie Joe and Bobbie Sue (and it even says so in the first line!).
The couple rob a castle and Billy Joe shoots the owner. Meanwhile, Bobby Sue takes the money and runs off.
Texas detective Billy Mack chases after the couple. They manage to escape his clutches, however, and run off with the money.
“Money Money” by Grateful Dead
Song year: 1974
The narrator apparently has a girlfriend who doesn’t want anything but money. But he’s so smitten with her that he doesn’t mind stealing for her.
When I was first reading the lyrics, I thought this song might be about how the government taxes you and wants all your money. Upon further investigation, though, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
So, the song might be slightly sexist. I will leave that part to your imagination though.
“Money Make Her Smile” by Bruno Mars
Song year: 2012
This song tells the story of a girl who’s obsessed with money.
As the story goes, Bruno Mars went to a strip club in Paris where he was introduced over the mic by the promoter. And, they played “Just The Way You Are.”
At that moment, Mars vowed to write a song that was more in keeping with a club atmosphere.
So, yeah, this is a song about exotic dancers.
“Money Talks” by Rick James
Song year: 1982
This funky hit is a commentary on the poor, racial issues as well as governmental corruption.
In that sense, you could say the subject matter is a little scattered.
But the point is well taken at least. If people need to steal to live, what’s the point in having all the money?
Listen to the money, says Rick James.
“The Big Money” by Rush
Song year: 1985
Rush’s “The Big Money” is about how much power money wields.
“It’s the power and the glory / It’s a war in paradise / A Cinderella story / On a tumble of the dice.”
But I have a feeling Neil Peart was addressing a bigger problem. I don’t think his problem is with money. It’s with the “big money”, in other words, those who are in power. It’s about corruption.
“Can’t Buy Me Love” by The Beatles
Song year: 1964
I guess you could say this is a little Beatles twist on the classic “money can’t buy you happiness” line.
In this song, the narrator says he doesn’t care much for money since it can’t buy him love.
But in the third verse he admits he’s looking for someone that doesn’t just want diamond rings and wants all the things love can’t buy (i.e. love).
Of course, you could take that further to have it mean that the narrator isn’t interested in marriage, which could be the case. But that’s probably reading into it too much.
“Material Girl” by Madonna
Song year: 1984
This is one of those songs that represented an entire generation. It was a cultural phenom, and in some ways, it still lives on.
In this song, the narrator says, “Sure, guys are alright. But if they can't buy me things, why bother?”
Of course, these days we have a term for the kind of person Madonna is singing about in this song – a gold digger.
But it’s hard to overstate the significance and impact of this song.
“If I Had $1,000,000” by Barenaked Ladies
Song year: 1988
The Barenaked Ladies’ breakthrough success was still a way off when they released this song. But in that sense, you could say it was a sleeper hit. It’s hard to imagine Barenaked Ladies without this classic number (although we haven’t had to imagine the Ladies without Steven Page – sad).
Anyway, in classic Ladies fashion, this is a half-serious, comedic song about having a lot of money.
I’ve heard a lot of people say “a million dollars isn’t that much” in response to this song. There’s that weirdness again.
Anyway, if you’ve ever wanted to hear a song about Dijon ketchup, your dream came true already. Have a listen to this number.
“Easy Money” by Billy Joel
Song year: 1983
The narrator tells the story of a man who’s addicted to gambling and finding ways of making easy money.
“You don’t have to try too hard / I don’t need a song and dance / I don’t need an invitation / If you’ve got a game of chance.”
I don’t think things turn out for the narrator, by the way, in case you were wondering. But I’m sure he’s not the only one looking for “easy money.”
“Easy Money” by Electric Light Orchestra
Song year: 2001
This song is about a woman who only wants money and will fool men into thinking she’s in love just to get in their pockets. Hmm… it seems like this is a common theme in music.
“Funny thing about it / Don’t even make me blue / ‘Cause there’s no better deal around / Than saying goodbye to you.”
It sounds like there’s a bit of a story behind this one.
“Money” by Yes
Song year: 1978
Here’s another song about money that contains plenty of clichés we’ve all heard about money, such as “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
But what is the song getting at?
I think it’s basically a song about corruption, especially based on the narration that happens throughout. And, with the frantic nature of the song and some of the lyrics, it also sounds like it’s about misdirection (e.g. take money from your pocket while you aren’t looking.).
“Bag Full Of Money” by The Byrds
Song year: 1971
Well, here’s a rather wordy song. It tells the story of an impoverished young man who’s drafted into the army. He learns to parachute in the Korean war.
Post-war, he’s still unhappy and poor, so he decides to steal money using the skills he’s learned.
I’m not sure exactly what message The Byrds were trying to share with the world, but it is an interesting story.
“I Don’t Want Your Money” by Chicago
Song year: 1971
In this song, the narrator says he doesn’t want money, he just wants that special someone to be with him (we all know how this turns out based on all the other songs about women only wanting men with money).
Lyrically, this is a sparse song. Musically, it’s heavy on the blues. I can groove to it.
“Lay Your Money Down” by Bread
Song year: 1977
This is a clever song that equates love with gambling.
The narrator wants a commitment from his significant other and he’s not getting what he wants. He’s ready to leave.
“All these moves you been makin’ / Like a game of keep away / I’ve had all I’m a-takin’ / It’s catchin’ up to you today.”
“If In Money We Trust” by Van Morrison
Song year: 2012
I don’t think there are any hidden meanings in this song, but you’d need to ask Morrison himself for the precise meaning.
Based on what I’m seeing, he’s saying money has replaced god. No one believes in god anymore and money has taken the place of godly values.
It could also be a song that’s calling the lack of patriotism into question. Of course, when you Google “In God We Trust” you are bombarded by images of one- and 20-dollar bills.
So, yeah. Morrison isn’t pleased about something.
“Money (In God We Trust)” by Extreme
Song year: 1990
I was staring at the lyrics to Van Morrison’s song (previous entry), and of course, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs about money – Extreme’s “Money (In God We Trust).” Thematically, it’s similar too.
This is a song about greed and always wanting more money.
Singer Gary Cherone has publicly stated that he’s Christian, so I think it’s entirely possible his values made their way into this song.
So far as hard rock songs about money are concerned, this one is up there.
“Money” by Michael Jackson
Song year: 1995
This song by Michael Jackson mostly seems to be about corruption.
Apparently, more specifically, it’s about the boy who lied about molestation charges in 1993. Jackson ended up owing millions of dollars.
Greed can drive people to do crazy things.
“Put Yer Money Where Yer Mouth Is” by Oasis
Song year: 2000
This lyrically sparse number seems to be prompting someone to put their money where their mouth is – to own up to something they said they would do.
As some fans have suggested, it could be a song to get us all a little riled up. “Stop talking and start doing” it seems to be saying.
“I’ve Got Money” by James Brown
Song year: 1962
The narrator in this song says now that he’s got money, he needs love. Money can’t buy you love.
But this song also speaks to human nature. Once we’ve got one thing, we end up wanting another. It’s inescapable.
It’s one of the reasons fear of success is so silly. People ask, “what will I do when I’m successful?”
The answer is that you’d set another goal. You’d set out to try to get something else. Once you’ve got plenty of one thing, you’ll always want another thing.
“Vampire Money” by My Chemical Romance
Song year: 2010
This is a rather whimsical song by emo band My Chemical Romance.
The song pokes fun at the Twilight series, where vampires sparkle. Yeah. I can’t believe we used to be obsessed with that stuff either.
The money part obviously refers to the fact there are people making loads of money off vampires (then again, plenty of people are making money on dinosaurs too).
“Rich Girl” by Hall & Oates
Song year: 1976
Cited by some as the recipe for the perfect pop song, “Rich Girl” is one of Hall & Oates’ timeless hits.
The song is about a girl who has wealthy parents. Apparently, she doesn’t have any redeeming qualities beyond the fact that she’s rich, and the narrator doesn’t think she’s going to get anywhere out in the world with her attitude.
I mean, the narrator basically accuses her of being a sociopath.
Hall said the song was in fact about one of his girlfriend’s ex. So, the song isn’t about a girl at all. Lyrically, however, it does sound better than “rich boy.”
“Eat The Rich” by Aerosmith
Song year: 1993
From the opening lines, we can tell that this is an angry song. It’s basically about the shallowness of what rich people complain about.
Aerosmith was probably loaded when they recorded this song, so their true intentions are a little uncertain here.
I guess the key is to not complain about shallow, small stuff that other people don’t have the luxury to complain about.
“Love Or Money” by Sammy Hagar
Song year: 1980
Reading the lyrics to this song… It sounds like Sammy Hagar may have been dating a girl obsessed with money. In the song, she keeps saying she wants more money.
Knowing Hagar there probably aren’t any deeper meanings here. But if you like hard rock, just crank it up and dance along.
Top Songs With Money In The Title, Final Thoughts
In one way or another, all our worlds revolve around money. And, our relationship to money dictates how we handle it and what we do with it.
I think it’s good to become present to whatever weirdness that’s there for you, because that could be the key to changing your relationship to money for the better.
And, we hope you found plenty of new songs and bands to listen to. Enjoy!