Recession: The Album

Tough times, inordinate struggle and challenging situations provide a much more potent creative muse than times of relative calm and ease. Struggle and pressure brings out the best of us creatively. Many an artistic movement has been borne of rebellion and oppression.

Plato said “if anyone comes to the gates of poetry and expects to become an adequate poet….without the Muse’s madness, he will fail and his verses will be eclipsed by the poetry of men who have been driven out of their minds.” So it seems if you want to write damn good lyrics you need a bit of madness and despair? How about a recession for bringing about a bit of that?

I’ve been thinking about how some of the best music has been written about a recession or times of economic decline – The Boss, The Clash, Led Zep. Introducing…….. “Recession: The Album” !!

Maybe The Guardian will chuck out a free CD with the Saturday Papers?!

I’ve made a start but as we are so early on in these times of austerity most of the tracks are from the 70’s and 80’s with a smattering from the 90’s and 2000’s. The 90’s seethe with grunge, a rejection of the vanity and diva-ish-ness of stadium cock-rock. Not to mention the angry and rebellious rave scene that stuck two-fingers up to Thatcher’s social conservatism. But rave lyrics are few and far between and grunge’s tales of struggles in love and life could make Byron look whimsical.

Rock and rap seem to be the most fertile ground, both being intimately connected to the street and city life. There’s also the country music and blues that came out of the The Great Depression of 1930’s US that captured the replacement of rural poverty for urban poverty as people tragically and mistakenly thought they would find work in the city. New genres such as grime seem ripe for a new crop of young people/NEET fodder about life struggling on the UK streets.

In short, here is the list so far but I know I’ve barely scratched the surface. I need your help to grow it and bring new angles on how music has shaped the historical, folk and social record of economic upheaval. So, my Muses of Madness, feed me your songs of woe so we can learn from the masters and build our own catalogue for the heavy-lifting generation…….

In no particular order:
1. Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict A Riot
2. Manic Street Preachers – Slash and Burn
3. Simply Red – Money’s Too Tight To Mention
4. UB40 – One in Ten
5. The Clash – Career Opportunities/White Riot/Guns of Brixton
6. The Specials – Ghost Town
7. Bruce Springsteen – Johnny 99
8. Ray Charles – Hard Times
9. Jane’s Addiction – Being Caught Stealing
10. B.B. King – Recession Blues
11. Goldie – Inner City Life
12. The Source – You’ve Got The Love
13. Pink Floyd – Money
14. Steely Dan – Black Friday
15. The Kinks -Gallon of Gas

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