General Question

answerjill's avatar

Songs about social class?

Asked by answerjill (6170points) February 8th, 2009

Hi, all. I am giving a class presentation on extremes of wealth and poverty in my graduate seminar on social stratification. I thought that it might be fun to bring in some music for the students to listen to and analyze. Any good suggestions for songs that touch on issues surrounding social class? Thanks!

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76 Answers

90s_kid's avatar

Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang- Snoop Dawg
kidding.
I need more details, thanks.

[ss Edit]: vvv Based on @Tinyfaery ‘s quip,
Ordinary People-John Legend
The people-Common

tinyfaery's avatar

Common People by Pulp

dik2312's avatar

Real People – Common

edit: 90s kid probably picked the more appropriate song by Common for what your looking for.

asmonet's avatar

The first song that popped in my head was Brett Dennen’s Ain’t No Reason. Not sure that quite fits though.

fireside's avatar

Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues
Billy Joel – Allentown
Madonna – Material Girl
Living Colour – Glamour Boys
Arrested Development – Mr. Wendal
Eminem – Cleaning out my Closet

asmonet's avatar

Tracy ChapmanFast Car

Judi's avatar

@asmonet;I would say yeah except I was in a brett Dennen video (very small part) and my paycheck bounced. I lost respect for him after that. (actually I think it was ain’t no reason, I was a homeless person.)

laureth's avatar

Another Day in Paradise – Phil Collins
Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves – Cher

asmonet's avatar

@Judi: That blows, but it probably wasn’t his fault personally, poor management and all. Look anything like in your pic? Cause I’m totally gonna look out for you now. :P

asmonet's avatar

Theres a blond homeless lady in the background…you?

Judi's avatar

Yes, that’s me. they edited most of it out.

laureth's avatar

So, you played a homeless person for pay. And the paycheck bounced, which sucks. I hope you didn’t need that money to pay for your mortgage or rent…

asmonet's avatar

@Judi: Ha! yay! I found you. :)

You shoulda seen me I was sitting here inches from my monitor looking around frantically for anything yellow.

bythebay's avatar

…What’s that song, older, great piano player…went on to play with the Grateful Dead…?

bythebay's avatar

Bruce Hornsby! The Way It Is

Blondesjon's avatar

Puttin’ on the Ritz

-Irving Berlin

Pickin’ Time

-Johnny Cash

Big Rock Candy Mountains

-Harry McClintock

Money

-Pink Floyd

Material Girl

-Maddona

Sunset Grill

-Don Henely

Jayne's avatar

Just because I doubt I’ll get a chance to reference this again anytime soon, I’m going to have to recommend the Ballad of Jayne.

loser's avatar

Father Christmas by The Kinks was the first thing to pop into my head for some reason.

asmonet's avatar

YEAH! The man they call Jayne!

galileogirl's avatar

When I taught US history I used a series by RCA that was songs of different decades. Rather than music of different classes, most music is the view of the working class of other groups. For example, with the exception of Cole Porter, upper class musicians don’t write popular songs about the difficulties of hiring domestic staff or how war is cutting back on vacation sites.

It might be interesting to look at class issues through an historic lens. Looking at patriotism in a pushy uber-American way ‘I’m proud to be an American’ vs the joyous ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ way (written by an immigrant)

Or look at some really angry urban music up against the same idea in ‘Ain’t nobody’s Business (What I do)’

There are also great differences in what is considered socially acceptable (remember it is always the middle class that sets the level for good manners-the upper and lower classes are less likely to care) ‘Making Whoopee’ vs something something very explicit today or ‘All the Things you are’ vs ‘Baby Got Back’ etc

answerjill's avatar

Wow, thanks for all of the ideas! I didn’t expect this question to get so much attention!

Blondesjon's avatar

@answerjill…Fluther can play the song game all the day and all of the night.

basp's avatar

Janus Joplin
Oh lord buy me a mercedes Benz.

answerjill's avatar

There are lots of good country songs that deal with class…

Blondesjon's avatar

@baspMtl_Zack has an itchy janus

wundayatta's avatar

Woody Guthrie has a slew of them:

SONGS OF LABOR & STRUGGLE
BABE O’ MINE (SARAH OGAN GUNNING/WOODY GUTHRIE) (1930s/1941) (with the ALMANAC SINGERS)
BOOMTOWN BILL (with the ALMANAC SINGERS) (June 1942)
BOOMTOWN BILL (PRINTED VARIANT) (June 1942)
THE DYING DOCTOR (aka THE COMPANY TOWN DOCTOR) (1945)
THE FARMER-LABOR TRAIN (1944)
JOE HILLSTROM (1940s)
KEEP THAT OIL A-ROLLIN’ (with the ALMANAC SINGERS) (June 1942)
THE LADIES’ AUXILIARY (1942)
LUDLOW MASSACRE (c. 1944)
MEAN TALKING BLUES (1940s)
1913 MASSACRE (c. 1944)
TALKING SUBWAY (c. early 1940s)
THE UNION MAID (1940; last verse: MILLARD LAMPELL, 1941) (with THE ALMANAC SINGERS)
THE WEAVER’S SONG (1941; with THE ALMANAC SINGERS; previously unissued track; released 1996)
WEAVERY LIFE (prob. 1940s)

I suggest Union Maid:

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come ‘round
She always stood her ground.
CHORUS:
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union, I’m sticking to the union.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union ‘til the day I die.
This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn’t be fooled by a company stool, she’d always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She’d show her card to the National Guard
And this is what she’d say:
CHORUS

You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who’s a union man and join the ladies’ auxiliary.
Married life ain’t hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he’s got a union wife.

eponymoushipster's avatar

Common People – Pulp
On the Bus Mall – The Decemberists
Los Angeles, I’m Yours – The Decemberists
Expectations – Belle and Sebastian
The Stars of Track and Field – Belle and Sebastian
Reader Meet Author – Morrissey
Give It Up – LCD Soundsystem
Best Wishes On Your Black Lung – Less Than Jake
LDN – Lily Allen
Margaret V. Pauline – Neko Case
Those Bold City Girls – The Shins
We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful – Morrissey
Beverly Hills – Weezer

augustlan's avatar

The River – Bruce Springsteen:

Then I got Mary pregnant
And man that was all she wrote
And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat
We went down to the courthouse
And the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle
No flowers no, wedding dress

That night we went down to the river
And into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we’d ride

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don’t remember
Mary acts like she don’t care

marinelife's avatar

Another Day in Paradise Phil Collins (performed here by David Archuleta)

Rag Doll Franki Valli & the Four Seasons

Uptown Girl Billy Joel

Love Child The Supremes

Joe Hill Joan Baez

laureth's avatar

Oh yeah! Elvis Presley—In the Ghetto

janbb's avatar

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime”
“Banks are Made of Marble”
“Ballad of Joe Hill”
“Workingman’s Blues” – Bob Dylan Modern Times
“Pastures of Plenty” – Woody Guthrie

janbb's avatar

There’s also a great song by Woody about migrant workers called “Deportees.” Judy Collins sings it and several other folkies.

peedub's avatar

You should check out Robert Wyatt..

cschack's avatar

Sunny Afternoon by the Kinks. Both the banker and the garbage man should be able to relate – if not necessarily sympathize – with it.

kruger_d's avatar

Tiny Fish for Japan by Stan Rogers, Ontario artist, effects of corporate take over of fishing industry on the Great Lakes
Jet Set or Sam Stone by John Prine
Sunday Afternoon by Queen

marinelife's avatar

cschack reminds me of a wonderful cautionary tale about class differences that is very apropos for our times: Richard Cory.

janbb's avatar

Richard Cory was made into a song by Paul Simon. It is one one of the early Simon and Garfunkel albums and would be great for this topic.

fireside's avatar

Eleanor Rigby – Beatles

eponymoushipster's avatar

i forgot, Come on Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

90s_kid's avatar

@eponymoushipster
I remmber that song when they’re in the overalls and the singer’s trying to go on a date with Eileen and does at the end and shoot thats 80’s
Well, my second favorite decade…

90s_kid's avatar

That was a big 1 hit wonder, wasn’t it?
I can’t remember another song from them…

eponymoushipster's avatar

@90s_kid yeah, it was. I think they’re all probably “Dexy’s Midnight Gas Pumpers” now.

asmonet's avatar

Actually, they had two big hits, the first even before Come On, Eileen was Geno!
The lead singer Kevin Rowland launched a solo career – most people felt it was a bit odd. And they’ve all been active, I mean over the years there’s been like 15 members. But only two founders, who I believe are both still in the biz.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@asmonet i hate you you know ;)

asmonet's avatar

@eponymoushipster: Hate you too, baby. :)

eponymoushipster's avatar

@asmonet <points finger at eye> <wink>

fireside's avatar

I find it funny that a 14 year old can remember music videos from the early 80s, but hey…

asmonet's avatar

Come On Eileen isn’t like remembering Turning Japanese or Cars or something more obscure. Though, Cars is in GTA…so maybe.

eponymoushipster's avatar

Turning Japanese was covered by 90s ska bands, so it’s feasible. Cars is probably on par with ..Eileen.

asmonet's avatar

Not for some groups, you’d be surprised. Come On Eileen is on EVERY flashback show. Cars isn’t.

I doubt he’s into ska.

eponymoushipster's avatar

that’s true, but i meant in terms of popularity, not style (for sure). although, some folks have done covers, again not ska. what’s more, cars is a 70s song, released some 4 months before i graced this planet with my being.

as for…Eileen, i almost prefer the Save Ferris version. probably has to do with redheads…

interesting side fact: if you search for “Gary Neuman” instead of “Numan”, you get a wiki page for a licensed rabbi.

asmonet's avatar

Damn it! You’re right. 1979. My bad.
lol—> rabbi

I’m partial to redheads myself. ;)

eponymoushipster's avatar

that’s cool. i think pretty much everyone considers that an 80s song anyways. it certainly fits in better with the 80s music ethic moreso than the 70s music ethic.

and has a rabbi ever rocked that hard? no.

asmonet's avatar

The answer my dear monkey, is yes.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@asmonet i’ll allow it.

he’s not a rabbi, and a convert hasidim, but that is pretty smooth. i guess you’ll never go to a concert of his on friday night.

well played, friend, well played.

asmonet's avatar

A stretch yes, but an awesome one.

I just found this:
Oh dear, Jesus.

eponymoushipster's avatar

Ok. a few things about that link:

1) they would probably take you to task for saying “oh dear, Jesus”.
2) it kinda looks like the hale-bopp comet website.
3) wow.

asmonet's avatar

haha, that’s why I said it.

It is win. I hope he keeps all those Jedi robes he’s got.

eponymoushipster's avatar

i think he’s the one who will bring balance to the Force. And call you a “schmuck” while doing it.

asmonet's avatar

i love it.

90s_kid's avatar

@fireside
I had parenting that showed me it ALL.
And I was interested.

90s_kid's avatar

@asmonet
asmonet’s avatar

[Asmonet]:The answer my dear monkey, is yes.
I remember that song! I knew it! He looked Jewish!!

90s_kid's avatar

@asmonet
It’s all about the sideburns.
Though I totaly had a bad experience with a protestant with long sideburns :S.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@90s_kid Though I totaly had a bad experience with a protestant with long sideburns :S.

What’s next? I had an awkward silence between me and a Pentecostal with a pompadour.

answerjill's avatar

Well, this thread has sure taken an unexpected turn!

90s_kid's avatar

I wonder if Jesus has sideburns…

eponymoushipster's avatar

@90s_kid well, he was a jew, so he had a beard.

answerjill's avatar

Not all Jews have beards—the women don’t! (Seriously, not all Jewish men have beards.)

eponymoushipster's avatar

@answerjill not now, but back then, i believe it was part of the religious requirements.

answerjill's avatar

I don’t know what the rules were back in Jesus’s day. I could be wrong, but from my understanding of Jewish history, the prohibition was against shaving the corners of one’s beard—what one calls “payot” in Hebrew or maybe ‘sideburns’ in English.

Samlovesrobertpattinson's avatar

Does anyone know any rock songs about social strification

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