Tunes From the Team: Tax Day and the American Dream

This week we’re collecting songs that quite possibly reflect our moods towards Uncle Sam on this tax week.

Christopher Bulluck spoke a profound truth in 1716 when he wrote, “’Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes”. Ben Franklin spoke a similar sentiment in 1789, but he can go fly a kite. That’s right, tomorrow (Tuesday 5/18) is Tax Day; normally on the 15th April, a global pandemic has shifted the due date back a month. Did you think a worldwide crisis would keep the Taxman from coming to collect what is his? It’s a universal feeling, this indignity suffered every time you examine your pay stub, and one that many musicians have sung about.

Ironically in America, on 5/20 it’s “National Be A Millionaire” day, whatever that means. Maybe they’re encouraging you to play the lotto, or maybe watch “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.” Maybe you’re suppose to visualize yourself a millionaire, and put that out into the universe so it can come back to you. And then when you’re a millionaire you can pay little to no taxes! Two somewhat contradicting days in the same week; only in America!

So we have the put together a list of the best songs about money horded by the government and money horded by it’s citizens. We have the heavy hitters (The Beatles, Pink Floyd, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, ABBA, AC/DC, Madonna) but there are also some smaller groups (The Sonics, Power Trip, Queens of the Stone Age) you should check out. I’ll highlight a few.

  • Money (That’s What I Want) was originally written by Tamla (eventually renamed Motown Records) founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford, and was a hit when it was recorded by Barrett Strong in 1959. Many artists have recorded covers, including The Beatles, the Kingsmen, Buddy Guy, The Doors, The Supremes, The Rolling Stones, Little Richard, Etta James and more. The Sonics are an American garage rock band from Tacoma, Washington, and this version of the song is the most unhinged; it’s raw and it’s aggressive. The Sonics were a punk band before punk was a thing; they rocked harder than any of the contemporaries, and that’s why I chose this version of the song. John Lennon also has a really good live version as well from Peace in Toronto 1969.
  • What If We  All Stopped Paying Taxes? was released in 2011 by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Sharon Jones didn’t get a break in the music world until she was 40, after working for many years as a corrections officer on Rikers Island and an armored car guard for Wells Fargo. In 2002, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings released their first record, and they would help lead a revival of funk and soul. Sadly, Jones past away in 2016 from cancer. Her last record came out in 2017 featuring her final studio recordings.
  • Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe) was released in 2017 by Dallas thrash metal band Power Trip. This is a song to listen to while riding a motorcycle (I’m assuming); while lifting heavy weights (also assuming); and while being an all-around bad ass. The toms here are deep and tribal, and this would be a great song to listen to if you were going to fight someone to the death. I don’t recommend that, but if you have to, you have to.
  • Millionaire was released in 2017 by Chris Stapleton, and is a love country song, and it’s beautiful, and it’s kind of a perfect song. Listen to it with someone you care about. Listen to this song after you win your fight to the death.

There are four songs I recommend; a protopunk song, a soul song, a thrash metal song, and a country song. Don’t try to pigeonhole me. Here’s the list of songs, enjoy!


Bonus video content. Here’s the anti-“National Be A Millionaire” day song if there ever was one. Rage Against the Machine’s video for Sleep Now in the Fire was directed by Michael Moore and shows the band in front of the New York Stock Exchange, where they actually caused the doors of the NYSE to be closed as a result of the filming.