A couple of years ago I heard novelist Ian McEwan talking about his novel Saturday, lamenting the fact that work doesn’t crop up in novels these days. Characters do everything in the modern novel, other than work – or if they do, there’s no particular detail paid to the minutiae of their trade, unless, of course, they’re detectives in which case we get to hear too much.
Try looking for mentions of mortgages in the modern pop/rock song and you’ll hit the same brick wall. Foreclosures, or even dissapointing returns on pork bellies from the chicago market – something which one is sure that the investment minded songwriter, like M. Jagger, is probably more than a little aware of – are noticeably absent from the classics, so bear with me as we put together a tenuous play-list with which to confront the credit crunch.
R.E.M. It’s the end of the world as we know it
Best played over your morning coffee as you check to see whether the bank in which your savings are held has gone bust, or as you check to see how much your variable rate mortgage is going to cost you this month.
Jenny Owen Youngs’ What the Fuck was I thinking
With a slight modification, it could work as a soundtrack when you’re trying to think exactly why you signed up to a particular mortgage.
Jimmy Eat World Futures
Perhaps the only song in the list to fit the tag without adjustment, Futures hits a hard-rock nerve on the Bush administration zeitgeist which has helped create the conditions to change to cost of living for millions worldwide
“Hey now, you can’t keeping saying endlessly
My darling, how long until this affects me?
Say hello to good times
Trade up for the fast ride
We close our eyes while the nickel and dime take the streets completely”
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Brother my cup is empty
Let’s get melodramatic, and imagine that things really do go over the edge. Cave’s begging song is no shrinking-violet, but filled with indignation and menace. Best played, at ear-shattering volume, to any banker you may know.
O brother, my cup is empty
And I havent got a penny
For to buy no more whiskey
I have to go home [...]
O my friend, my only brother
Do not let the party grieve
So throw a dollar onto the bar
Now kiss my ass and leave
And finally, for a glimmer of hope, Cake’s version of Gloria Gaynor’s I will Survive, for the main because, unlike Gaynor’s version, there’s no doubt in the cake version that the subject of the song will indeed survive, and is completely over the object of his misplaced affections. Hopefully an anthem to be adopted by economists in their droves abandoning the neo-liberal ship.