Friday Five: Broke

Ken Morton, Jr. | December 31st, 2010

Now that the holidays are over, we can concentrate on what comes next. We’re not talking about turkey leftovers or ensuring that Aunt Louise and Uncle Milton make it home safely back to Tampa. We’re talking about the mountains of receipts staring us in the face from all of the presents we bought and thought were a good idea at the time. It is called goodwill because that’s where you have to go after the holidays to buy all of your daily needs for awhile.

We’re talking about debt. Empty pockets. No mooola. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Debt up to our eyeballs. There’s a reason that National Get Out Of Debt Day isn’t until September 12.

To celebrate threadbare wallets and lonely Benjamins everywhere, we present to you five songs about being broke.

  • Terry McBride and the Ride5. “High Hopes and Empty Pockets” – McBride and the Ride

    Terry McBride and the boys had a string of hits in the early 90’s and this little ditty barely made a dent in the charts in 1994. This is the official video for the song and it is genius if only for all of its Miami Vice pastel jacket and pant deliciousness.

  • Waitin' On Joe4. “Damn the Money” – Steve Azar

    Azar sings, “It sure seems like so much life’s spent searching for the promise land/But the time that’s lost worrying about the cost will never come back again/And it breaks us in the end.” So at least you have unending eternal regret to look forward to.

  • I Want My Money Back3. “I Want My Money Back” – Sammy Kershaw

    Released in 2003, Kershaw laments the dinero he spent on a Madonna concert nosebleed tickets as the song opens and then the fact that his college education can’t help him find any other job than slinging fries.

  • Clambake2. “Who Needs Money?” – Elvis Presley

    This little ditty is pulled from Elvis Presley’s 1967 movie Clambake in which a poor guy and a rich guys switch places for a while to see what it’s like in each other’s shoes. It sounds a bit like Trading Places without Randolph and Mortimer.

  • The Ultimate Collection1. “If the Devil Danced in Empty Pockets” – Joe Diffie

    Joe Diffie took this Ken Spooner/Kim Williams written song about an old Tudor proverb and made it his second number one hit back in 1991. The devil has a nine foot grand piano, a ten piece band and a twelve girl chorus line in Diffie’s pocket. He probably needs a belt with that.

  1. Vicki
    December 31, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Jamey Johnson’s “When a poor man gets the blues”

  2. Bob
    December 31, 2010 at 7:56 am

    “Billy Hill” a group consisting of John Scott Sherrill (lead singer), Bob DiPiero and Dennis Robbins had one cd “I Am Just a Rebel”. Their first single, “Too Much Month (At The End of the Money)” reached #25 in 1989 and #54 for Marty Stuart & the Fabulous Superlatives in 2003. Steve Azar used the “There’s too much month at the end of the money” line in his recent song “Moo La Moo”.

    Jim Croce’s “Working at the Car Wash Blues”

    Carolina Rain’s “Dealin'”
    “I’m dealin’ with my taxes and my 401k
    Dealin’ with losin’ more ground every day”

    Loved “If the Devil Danced …”, song and video.

  3. luckyoldsun
    December 31, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Sounds like this guy’s musical memories go back to about 1990–except for Elvis.

    How can you write about songs about being broke without mentioning the all-time great “Busted”–versions by Johnny Cash, Ray Charles or even John Conley?

  4. Paul W Dennis
    December 31, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Billy Edd Wheeler wrote a clever song during the 1960s titled “After Taxes”. It was recorded by Johnny Cash and numerous other singers

    “I feel so good come payday
    I think of all the things I’m gonna
    Buy when I pick up my pay

    Don’t you know, but then they hand me
    That little brown envelope
    I peep inside, Lord I lose all hope

    ‘Cause from those total wages earned
    Down to that net amount that’s due
    I feel the painful sense of loss between the two

    There goes that bracelet for her arm
    There goes that new fence for my farm
    There goes that brand new Pontiac
    There goes the shirt right off my back …”

  5. Barry Mazor
    December 31, 2010 at 9:03 am

    I nominate this Travis Tritt hit, written by Kostas:

    All around I hear the sound of money
    But I ain’t got a nickel to my name
    And everywhere I look I see temptation
    She stands on every corner and calls my name.

    Won’t you tell me if you can
    ‘Cause life’s so hard to understand
    Why’s the rich man busy dancing
    While the poor man pays the band
    Oh, they’re billing me for killing me
    Lord, have mercy on the working man.

    Uncle Sam’s got his hands in my pockets
    And he helps himself each time he needs a dime
    Them politicians treat me like a mushroom
    ‘Cause they feed me bull and keep me in the blind.

    Won’t you tell me if you can
    ‘Cause life’s so hard to understand
    Why’s the rich man busy dancing
    While the poor man pays the band
    Oh, they’re billing me for killing me
    Lord, have mercy on the working man.

    Hey, St. Peter, look down for a minute
    And see this little man about to drown
    There’s quicksand all around and man I’m in it
    Please help me up Lord, ’cause I’m going down.

    Won’t you tell me if you can
    ‘Cause life’s so hard to understand
    Why’s the rich man busy dancing
    While the poor man pays the band
    Oh, they’re billing me for killing me
    Lord, have mercy on the working man.

    Won’t you tell me if you can
    ‘Cause life’s so hard to understand
    Why’s the fat man busy dancing
    While the thin man pays the band
    Oh, they’re billing me for killing me
    Lord, have mercy on the working man.

    Please Lord, have mercy on the working man.
    Please Lord, have mercy on the working man…

  6. Ollie
    December 31, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Me and Bobby McGee- “Busted flat in Baton Rouge…”
    Coat of Many Colors

  7. nm
    December 31, 2010 at 10:13 am

    If We Make It Through December

  8. Jon
    December 31, 2010 at 10:16 am

    @Luckyoldsun Good question, especially given that Patty Loveless cut “Busted” on her most recent album.

  9. Jim Malec
    December 31, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Friday Fives were never meant to be, or presented as, “Best Of” or “Five Best” lists. I’m thinking Ken probably just wanted to highlight some less renowned songs.

  10. Ken Morton, Jr.
    December 31, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Jim’s right on. Juli has paved a terrific history of (somewhat quirky) playlists that aren’t designed to be the top 5 or best 5 songs on a topic, but five songs that resonate personally. Songs might get chosen based on a live performance we find on youTube or like in the case of this week’s McBride video, a video that’s so 90’s cheesy that it had to be used. While I won’t profess to be nearly as knowledgable in country history as Jon W, Barry M or Paul D, I’m a sucker for classic country and have used many older songs in previous Friday Fives. I was actually holding over “Busted” as a possible feature unto itself down the road.

  11. Barry Mazor
    December 31, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I haven’t meant to be critical of the choices, which are cool for being fresh and less obvious But it’s a good theme and it made me want to add another suggestion–which is what people often do with these fives!..

  12. Ken Morton, Jr.
    December 31, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Barry, I didn’t take yours critically whatsover. Discussion, favorites and additions to the list are what this feature are all about!

  13. Barry Mazor
    December 31, 2010 at 11:21 am

    I hear you Ken.

    Truthfully, there’s often just too much nagging and trashing of other people around here for my taste–directly, or as groups, sometimes subtly, sometimes with a club.

    I’d favor New Year’s Resolutions to cut that all out, and I want to be sure that I don’t add to that tone.

    This is supposed to be fun, I understand. And maybe enlightening.n And I don’t find watching people being trashed fun. Just funny that way.

  14. Jim Malec
    December 31, 2010 at 11:27 am

    I’ll make that a resolution.

  15. Brady Vercher
    December 31, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I’d like to wholeheartedly endorse Barry’s comment.

  16. Mike Parker
    December 31, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Good list… made me think of “Broke” by Todd Snider…

  17. luckyoldsun
    December 31, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Well here’re Johnny Cash and Ray Charles doing an abbreviated version of “Busted.”

    along with versions by Johnnie, Ray and Conlee.

    and one by Harlan Howard, who wrote the damn thing.

  18. Rick
    December 31, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    I’d like to add the old bluegrass chestnut “If I Lose” with my favorite version performed by Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder. The key chorus verse “If I lose a hundred dollars while I’m trying to win a dime, my baby she’s got money all the time!” (lol)

    Another great old country anthem to a broke guy who makes the most of it is Lefty Frizzell’s “If You’ve Got The Money, I’ve Got The Time”.

    And finally, the physical hazards of being broke are best illustrated in the Jimmie Rodgers classic “Hobo Bill’s Last Ride”. My favorite version being sung by Iris Dement on the Jimmie Rodgers tribute album which features country, Americana, and rock artists doing mostly their best to torpedo some of Jimmie’s best known songs…

    PS – Thank goodness most New Year’s Resolutions only last for a week or so…

  19. Matt B.
    January 1, 2011 at 1:34 am

    There is, of course “Sixteen Tons!” Just call me “Captain Obvious” for this one.

  20. Jon
    January 1, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Ricky got “If I Lose” from Charlie Poole by way of the Stanley Brothers, whose version you really ought to hear. Ricky’s also recorded another great song in this vein, “I Ain’t Broke (But I’m Badly Bent),” though not on his own.

    Haggard cut a fabulous version of “Hobo Bill’s Last Ride” on the live Muskogee album.

  21. Barry Mazor
    January 1, 2011 at 9:40 am

    And everybody got “If I Lose” from Charlie Poole. Happy New Year.

  22. Katherine
    January 1, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Shout out to JB & the Moonshine Band – “I’m Broke”

  23. TimeO
    January 3, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Asleep at the Wheel’s “Dollar Short and a Day Late”

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