Alan Eisenstock’s Playlist: ‘Show Me the Money’

Editor’s note: When Palisadian Alan Eisenstock is not researching and writing one of his nonfiction books (18 thus far!), he pursues what he calls “a crazy labor of love side project” that he started a year ago in mid-March: sending a weekly Covid-themed playlist of songs to his family and friends. These playlists (which can be downloaded on Spotify CLICK HERE ) span rock ‘n’ roll and pop music from the 1950s to 2020, and Eisenstock adds one or two lines of commentary about each song that is clever, amusing and informative.)


Hi, Everyone,

As we prepare to get vaccinated and Texans dig out of a blizzard and no electricity that some right wingers believe was caused by the Green New Deal, a significant COVID stimulus/relief package is on the way. If all goes well, money will soon be flowing to those who need it. In the meantime, what to do? Idea! Here are 22 “money or the lack thereof” songs. Listen up!


1.”Can’t Buy Me Love” The Beatles. The Lads, from 1964 A Hard Day’s Night, the film and soundtrack album. This song’s title makes a strong statement but I say, you might not be able to buy my love, but why not try?

2.”Rich Girl” John Hall & Daryl Oates. Philly pop duo, great in person, sing this 1977 #1 hit about a spoiled rich girl. Some suggested the song was about newspaper heiress and famous outlaw, Patty Hearst. The guys said no.

3.”Heart of Gold” Neil Young. Released as a single in 1972 and became Neil’s biggest hit. James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt sing backup. Dylan said every time he heard the song he got pissed because he thought Neil was doing an impression of him. Huh? Neil married Daryl “Splash” Hannah a few years ago.

4.”Diamonds on The Soles Of Her Shoes” Paul Simon. From 1986 and the iconic Gracelandalbum. Paul wrote this in South Africa about, I’m guessing, a really rich woman. Features the great all-male choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

5. “Money (That’s What I Want)” Barrett Strong. Barrett was one of the first artists Berry Gordy signed at Motown. This was the first Motown hit, recorded in 1960. Barrett Strong is also the first successful Motown artist with two last names.

6. “Money Money” Joel Grey, Liza Minnelli. Oscar-winners.Joel (Best Supporting Actor) and Liza (Best Actress) sing this terrific Kander-Ebb song from the 1972 film Cabaret. The film won eight Oscars, losing Best Picture to some obscure film called The Godfather.

7. “Easy Money” Billy Joel. From Billy’s 1983 concept album An Innocent Man in which Billy pays tribute to doo-wop and soul music. This song is an homage to James Brown and Wilson Pickett. I don’t hate it.

8. “Greenback Dollar” The Kingston Trio. Folk legends from the San Fran area, the Trio became one of the most popular and influential folk bands of all time. I love this 1962 hit written by Hoyt Axton and Kennard Ramsey.

9. “Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)” Simply Red. British soul/pop band led by Mick Hucknall, who actually has red hair, covers this 1982 song about the failure of Reaganomics. The line “Did the earth move for you, Nancy?” kind of makes me gag.

10. “The Poor Side of Town” Johnny Rivers. John Ramistella from New York wrote this hit with Lou Adler. I can’t get over Bronx-guy Ramistella’s conversion into a country singer, but whatever.

11. “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” Linda Ronstadt. Arizona-born Linda belts this 1976 Warren Zevon song like she owns it. Well, she owns everything she sings. What does this have to do with money? Nothing. It does have two “poors” in the title and it’s Linda.

12. “Poor Little Fool” Ricky Nelson. TV star/singer/teen idol Nelson recorded this song in 1958. It was written by Sharon Sheeley–when she was 15! Apparently, she drove to Ricky’s house, rang the doorbell, and when he answered, she claimed her car broke down. He let her in and she gave him the song. The song hit #1 and she became a well-known songwriter.

13. “Married in A Gold Rush” Vampire Weekend. Danielle Haim and Ezra Koenig sing this kind of country duet about a couple looking back at the golden days of their relationship. LOVE this song.

  1. “She Works Hard for The Money” Donna Summer. The Queen of Disco, born in Boston, sings this 1983 hit about a blue-collar woman working, working, working. Donna changed her name from LaDonna Gaines. She chose Summer as her last name because she was born in December and hated the winter.
  2. “It’s Money That Matters” Randy Newman. L.A. Born, New Orleans raised, Randy and I were both born in November and share the same middle name: Stuart. This is a song about, yep, money. It hit #1 and features Mark Knopfler on guitar.

16. “If I Had $1,000,000” Barenaked Ladies. Cool Canadian rock group, this is from their 1988 debut album Gordon. I cannot get this infectious song out of my head. I keep singing it. I’m driving my wife crazy. She said, “If I had a million dollars, I would give it to you if you WOULD STOP SINGING THIS SONG.”

  1. “Mercedes Benz” Janis Joplin. Written in 1970 by Janis, Bob Neuwirth, and San Fran Beat poet, Michael McClure. This gritty-voiced queen of the blues recorded this anti-consumerism a cappella rant in one take. Apropos of nothing, one Sunday I heard two masked women singing this at the Pacific Palisades farmers market as we walked in.
  2. “You Never Give Me Your Money” The Beatles. The Lads again. This song from Abbey Road was written by Paul about the band’s financial troubles. Wait. The Beatles had financial troubles? How did they blow a hundred trillion bazillion dollars?
  3. “If I Were A Rich Man” Zero Mostel. From Fiddler on the Roof,.which opened on Broadway in 1964. Zero performs more than sings this famous song about not having any money, or in his case, gelt. Just like the Beatles after Abbey Road.
  4. “Busted” Johnny Cash. The country king of trials and tribulations sings this Harlan Howard lament, which he recorded in 1963 on his Blood, Sweat and Tearsalbum. Often covered, in particular by Ray Charles, I went with Johnny’s version because I really like it, and I couldn’t find Ray’s version on Spotify.
  5. “Moneygrabber” Fitz and the Tantrums. L.A. pop/soul dance band formed in 2010. This catchy song comes from their first album Pickin Up The Pieces. Try not to dance. Dare you.
  6. “Money” Pink Floyd. Influential British progressive rockers led by Roger Waters. He wrote this, one of their biggest hits, in 1973. Love the cash register clinking in the opening.

And there you have it… 22 money songs to distract you until the stimulus check arrives.

In the meantime…

Don’t Forget to Disinfect… and … PLAY IT LOUD!


The link again: CLICK HERE.

Fact Check

Sharon Sheeley did knock on Ricky Nelson’s door and hand him “Poor Little Fool.” She actually wrote the song for Elvis but he turned her down.

I have no idea if Donna Summer took the stage name Summer because she hated being born in the winter. Probably not.


The Coasters “Searchin'” or Bobby Moore’s “Searching For My Love?” The winner was… ANOTHER TIE. I have to be the tiebreaker, I guess.



Cabaret or Fiddler? Which one you got?

Until next week…

Thank you,



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3 Responses to Alan Eisenstock’s Playlist: ‘Show Me the Money’

  1. leslie Campbell says:

    CABARET…hands down! My all-time-favorite, know every word to every song, musical!!! “That clinking clanking sound…”

  2. Rosalie says:

    Fun list, as always.
    I suggest adding the mid-80s song, “(How to Be A) Millionaire” by ABC. It kicks off with the line “I’ve seen the future. I can’t afford it.”
    As for “Cabaret” or “Fiddler on the Roof,” I’ll go for the one that tugs at my heart. It’s “Fiddler.”

  3. Chris Casady says:

    I suggest adding: “I Need a Dollar” by Aloe Blacc.

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