Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Money Talks"

Friday, September 4, 2015

What can I tell you, I didn't start buying every Kinks album until their hits were done. I owned the "Greatest Hits," but with limited cash it wasn't until I was a senior in high school that I purchased "Arthur," I loved hearing "Victoria."

And then I bought every one thereafter, including "Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One" from the cut-out bin. An incredible LP, completely forgotten to the sands of time.

Kind of like "Preservation Act 2."

That's right, when rock became bombastic, when corporate rock was rearing its ugly head, Ray Davies retreated into musical theatre, with concept albums telling stories you had to listen to to understand, and even then it wasn't always so easy. And "Preservation Act 1" was a hitless dud, but its follow-up, "Preservation Act 2," is pure genius. With a story containing English references that will have you running to your dictionary, suddenly "Preservation Act 1" made sense!

Not that the story was completely realistic. But there were bad guys and good guys and right smack dab in the middle of side one of "Preservation Act 2" is a song so accurate, it still rings true today, it's the best expression of the money culture we've been living in for decades.

"Show me a man who says he can live without bread
And I'll show you a man who's a liar and in debt"

Yes, it's always the poor claiming they can live without money. The rich, not so much. It's as if the underclass rationalizes its position, since it's got no direction home to the pot of gold controlled by the richies.

"There's no man alive who can't be purchased or enticed
There's no man alive who wouldn't sell for a price"

Everything's for sale. It's just a matter of the number.

Want that house on the corner? The owner might not be eager to sell, but if you ratchet up the price he starts thinking...with the money he can now buy TWO's YOURS!

And this is why today's stars do privates for corporations and despicable people, they can't say no to the price. Oftentimes they've spent it before the date's even played. You can pay your alimony and child support and...

"Money talks and we're the living proof
There ain't no limit to what money can do
Money talks, money talks"

It's why we revere the icons. It's why the unsuccessful have contempt for those in the black. Would they hate the popsters so much if they were broke? OF COURSE NOT!

"Money can't breathe and money can't see
But when I pull out a fiver people listen to me"

Try it. My dad taught me this lesson. You've got to grease the skids. The maitre d', the mechanic, the police... That's right, the guy who shuttles my mother around parks right in front of the theatre by dropping a fiver whenever he's told to move on by a blue coat, he says..."I think you dropped something..." Problem solved.

"Money can't run and money can't walk

But when I write out a check I swear to God I hear money talk"

Ah, what doors cash opens.

"Money talks and baby when you've been bought

You pay attention every time money talks

Money talks, money talks"

A few years later Bob Dylan sang that we "gotta serve somebody." Ain't that the truth. We all have a boss, and it all comes down to cash. You're being paid it, you want it, you can't say no. Stuff you'd never do in a million years, choices you abhor, you go down the path when someone is lording money over your head.

"Money talks and there's no doubt about it

Money talks and we can't live without it"

Try it. I did. You can't function. All you can think about is cash. How you're gonna get it, how you're gonna evade the bills. You're just one disaster away from crapping out. If you think you can live without money, you've never tried it.

"What's the point of living unless you've got money

I just couldn't function without money

Money talks, money talks

Money talks, money talks"

Wait a minute. Ray Davies is an artist. He's supposed to be above money, he's supposed to be doing it for the love. But in "Money Talks" he's exposing all the hypocrisy. Joni Mitchell might play if you're a friend of hers, otherwise she needs cold hard cash. The sooner you learn this, the sooner you're on the road to success.

"Show me an upright respected man

And I'll have him licking my boots when I put money in his hand"

Behind every great fortune lies a great crime. If you wanna be rich you've got to throw your morals out the window. It's what's happening in D.C. right now, with the politicians groveling at the feet of the billionaires. Just try getting rid of the puny hedge fund tax rate...can't be done when they donate, when they schlepp you around in their private jets.

"It rots your heart, it gets to your soul

Before you know where you are you're a slave to the green gold"

That idealist who sat next to you at college... He or she is now wearing a multi-thousand dollar suit and working around the clock for nothing other than money, they've barely got time to spend it. They're slaves to the cash.

"Money talks and we're the living proof"

And there you have it.

"There ain't no limit to what money can do"

Want change? Start with a big bank account.

"Money talks you out of your self-respect"

Would you really be friends with that jerk if he weren't rich and throwing you perks? Being a court jester for people whose values you hate?

"The more you crave it the cheaper you get"

Cheap isn't only about refusing to leave a tip, about hoarding cash, it's a whole attitude, and if you're cheap you can never get ahead in this world, you're stuck where you are. Loosen the purse strings if you want progress. But you'll end up a slave to the green gold, because the truth is we're all just rats in the same cage.

"Money buys you time and people listen"

Would anybody be paying attention to Donald Trump if he were broke?

"Money can buy a smile and make life worth living"

Look at the nerdy hedge funders with the babealicious wives, who get smiles from everybody on the payroll. That's the power of money. And we can criticize it all day long, but it's better than living without it.

"If you're ugly money can improve you"

Talk to the plastic surgeons. It's amazing what cash can buy you.

"I just couldn't face the world without mazuma"

The sooner you learn this lesson, the better off you are.

I've learned when someone says money doesn't matter they need to be ignored, they don't understand how the game is played, even worse, they don't understand people. Sure, some people will stand up to money now and again, but that's just until those with cash find their weak point, or these same people go broke.

The truth is money talks. Maybe silently. Maybe impliedly. But it's more vocal and more important than most of the drivel you hear every day, that you see on reality TV and even hear on the news.

Hell, there's not an anchor who won't jump ship for a check.

And networks protect their advertisers.

And if people let go HBO heads roll.

Money makes the world go-round.

And you probably won't learn this at school.

And too often you'll hear that money is dirty.

But if you want power, if you want to get ahead...follow the dollar.

Eventually Ray Davies did. Clive Davis got him to give up the album-length concepts, and go back to cutting individual songs. Clive did this by paying him. And the end result was success, suddenly the Kinks were playing arenas.

So even Ray Davies is a slave to the green gold. But in this one song he points out the truth of society better than anybody else.

That's the job of an artist.

To pursue truth.

But only if someone is paying you.

Only if you're getting rich.

"Money talks, money talks"