- 1.Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out – Eric Clapton
- 2.I Need a Dollar – Aloe Blacc
- 3.Dear Landlord – Bob Dylan
- 4.Liquor Store Blues – Bruno Mars
- 5.I’m Busted – Johnny Cash
- 6.Mr Banker – Lynyrd Skynyrd
- 7.The Downeaster ‘Alexa’ – Billy Joel
- 8.Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- 9.Hard Knock Life – Jay-Z
- 10.Mockingbird – Eminem
- 11.For the First Time – The Script
- 12.How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live – Bruce Springsteen
- 13.Arrested Development – Mr. Wendal
- 14.Dead End Street – The Kinks
- 15.Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin
- 16.Hard Times in New York – Bob Dylan
- 17.Can You Spare a Dime – Bing Crosby
- 18.No Woman, No Cry – Bob Marley
- 19.Common People – Pulp
- 20.Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
- 21.Another Day in Paradise – Phil Collins
Music has always been a reflection of the times and the struggles of the people who live in them. Throughout history, many musicians have used their art to comment on social and economic issues, and one topic that has resonated with audiences across generations is the struggle of being broke and having financial difficulties.
Songs about being broke and having financial struggles speak to a universal experience that many people can relate to. These songs often express the frustration, anxiety, and desperation that come with not having enough money to make ends meet. They can also be a source of comfort and solidarity for those who are going through similar struggles. From blues and folk to hip hop and rock, there are countless examples of songs that address financial struggles in different genres.
Some of the most iconic songs about being broke include “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” by Bing Crosby, “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley, and “I Need a Dollar” by Aloe Blacc. Each of these songs tells a story of hardship and resilience that has resonated with audiences for decades.
In recent years, artists like Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, and Post Malone have also used their music to comment on financial inequality and the struggles faced by marginalized communities. These songs highlight the ongoing importance of discussing issues of money and class in popular music, and they remind us that the power of music can transcend genres and generations.
1.Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out – Eric Clapton
“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” by Eric Clapton is a blues classic that tells the story of a man who has lost everything and everyone he once had due to his financial struggles. Clapton’s soulful guitar playing and raw vocals capture the emotion of the lyrics perfectly, making for a heartfelt and timeless tune.
2.I Need a Dollar – Aloe Blacc
“I Need a Dollar” by Aloe Blacc is a contemporary soul song that features a catchy, upbeat melody and empowering lyrics. The song speaks to the struggles of everyday life and the need for financial stability, with Blacc’s powerful vocals conveying the urgency of the message. The track became a massive hit, and its use as the theme song for the TV show “How to Make It in America” further cemented its status as an anthem for the hardworking and determined.
3.Dear Landlord – Bob Dylan
“Dear Landlord” is a song by Bob Dylan, featured on his album John Wesley Harding. The song is a plea to a landlord, asking for a bit of mercy and understanding. The lyrics are filled with metaphors and vivid imagery, showcasing Dylan’s masterful songwriting skills. The song’s gentle acoustic melody and Dylan’s plaintive vocals create a sense of sincerity and vulnerability, making it a poignant and heartfelt ballad. With its message of empathy and compassion, “Dear Landlord” remains a timeless classic, highlighting Dylan’s unique ability to blend social commentary with emotional depth.
4.Liquor Store Blues – Bruno Mars
“Liquor Store Blues” is a reggae-infused song by Bruno Mars, featuring vocals from Damian Marley. The track explores the struggles of working-class life and the desire for escapism through alcohol. The lyrics paint a picture of a man who is trapped in a cycle of poverty and addiction, with no real hope for the future. Mars’ smooth vocals and Marley’s signature reggae sound make for a catchy and memorable tune, while the poignant lyrics add depth and meaning. “Liquor Store Blues” is a testament to Mars’ ability to blend different genres and create something unique and powerful.
5.I’m Busted – Johnny Cash
“I’m Busted” is a classic country song by Johnny Cash, released in 1962. The song tells the story of a man who has hit rock bottom and is now facing the consequences of his actions. Cash’s deep, resonant voice captures the emotion of the lyrics perfectly, making for a heartfelt and powerful performance. The track’s simple yet effective melody and Cash’s signature guitar playing create a timeless sound that has resonated with audiences for decades. “I’m Busted” is a testament to Cash’s ability to tell a story through his music, while also shining a light on the struggles and hardships of everyday life.
6.Mr Banker – Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Mr. Banker” is a rock song by Lynyrd Skynyrd, featured on their album “Gimme Back My Bullets.” The song is a commentary on the greed and corruption of big business, with the lyrics depicting a man who has been taken advantage of by a wealthy banker. The track’s upbeat tempo and catchy guitar riffs create a classic rock sound that is synonymous with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music. The song’s message of standing up to those in power and fighting for what is right still resonates today, making “Mr. Banker” a timeless classic. With its driving rhythm and powerful lyrics, the track remains a standout in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s discography.
7.The Downeaster ‘Alexa’ – Billy Joel
“The Downeaster ‘Alexa'” is a folk-inspired song by Billy Joel, featured on his album “Storm Front.” The track tells the story of a struggling fisherman from Long Island, who is struggling to make ends meet in a changing world. Joel’s poignant lyrics and emotive vocals capture the sadness and desperation of the situation, while the track’s haunting melody and atmospheric soundscapes create a sense of longing and nostalgia. The song’s themes of perseverance and the human cost of progress are timeless, making “The Downeaster ‘Alexa'” a poignant and thought-provoking ballad that has stood the test of time.
8.Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Fortunate Son” is a classic rock song by Creedence Clearwater Revival, released in 1969 during the height of the Vietnam War. The track is a scathing critique of the privilege and power of the wealthy and their role in sending young, working-class men to fight in a war they could avoid. The song’s driving rhythm and catchy guitar riffs, combined with John Fogerty’s powerful vocals, create a sound that perfectly captures the anger and frustration of the lyrics. “Fortunate Son” became an anthem for anti-war protesters and remains a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences today, highlighting the power of music to effect change and inspire social activism.
9.Hard Knock Life – Jay-Z
“Hard Knock Life” is a hip-hop song by Jay-Z, featured on his album “Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life.” The track samples the iconic chorus from the musical “Annie,” with Jay-Z rapping about his struggles growing up in the tough streets of Brooklyn. The song’s upbeat tempo and catchy chorus have made it a hip-hop classic, with Jay-Z’s clever wordplay and slick rhymes cementing his reputation as one of the greatest rappers of all time. “Hard Knock Life” is an anthem for anyone who has faced adversity and hardship in their lives, with its message of resilience and determination resonating with audiences worldwide.
10.Mockingbird – Eminem
“Mockingbird” is a touching and introspective song by Eminem, featured on his album “Encore.” The track is a tribute to his daughter Hailie and his struggle to balance his fame and success with being a good father. The song’s emotional lyrics and somber melody showcase Eminem’s vulnerability and reveal a softer, more introspective side to his music. The chorus, which samples the lullaby “Hush, Little Baby,” adds to the song’s sentimental tone, making “Mockingbird” a moving tribute to the power of family and the challenges of balancing personal and professional responsibilities. The track remains a fan favorite and is considered one of Eminem’s most personal and honest songs to date.
11.For the First Time – The Script
“For the First Time” is a song by the Irish pop-rock band The Script, featured on their album “Science & Faith.” The track is an upbeat, optimistic song about the power of love and redemption, with lyrics that urge listeners to embrace change and take chances in their lives. The song’s infectious melody, catchy chorus, and driving rhythm create an energetic, feel-good sound that perfectly captures the song’s message of hope and renewal. “For the First Time” remains one of The Script’s most popular songs, with its uplifting message and upbeat sound making it a favorite among fans and a mainstay on radio playlists around the world.
12.How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live – Bruce Springsteen
“How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live” is a song by Bruce Springsteen, originally written by Blind Alfred Reed during the Great Depression era. The track, which was later covered by Springsteen, is a powerful commentary on the hardships faced by working-class Americans during times of economic struggle. Springsteen’s gravelly voice and mournful harmonica playing perfectly capture the song’s themes of desperation and struggle, while his lyrics paint a vivid picture of the struggles faced by the poor and disenfranchised. The track remains a timeless classic that highlights Springsteen’s ability to use music to shed light on important social and political issues, making it a must-listen for anyone interested in the power of music as a tool for social commentary.
13.Arrested Development – Mr. Wendal
“Mr. Wendal” is a song by the American hip-hop group Arrested Development, featured on their debut album “3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of…” The track is a tribute to a homeless man named Wendal, whom the group members met while living in Atlanta, Georgia. The song’s lyrics praise Wendal’s resilience and dignity, despite his difficult circumstances, while also criticizing society for failing to support and care for its most vulnerable members. The track’s upbeat, funky sound, driven by its catchy bassline and percussion, create a celebratory tone that perfectly captures the song’s message of hope and resilience. “Mr. Wendal” remains a fan favorite and is considered one of the most iconic songs of the 90s hip-hop scene.
14.Dead End Street – The Kinks
“Dead End Street” is a song by the British rock band The Kinks, released in 1966. The track is a biting commentary on the struggles faced by working-class families in post-war Britain, with lyrics that vividly depict the desperation and despair of those trapped in poverty. The song’s slow, mournful melody, punctuated by its pounding drums and driving bassline, perfectly captures the sense of hopelessness and frustration conveyed by its lyrics. Despite its bleak subject matter, the track remains a classic of the 1960s British rock scene, with its powerful message and memorable sound making it a must-listen for fans of the era.
15.Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin
“Mercedes Benz” is a song by Janis Joplin, featured on her album “Pearl,” which was released posthumously in 1971. The track is a satirical take on the materialistic culture of the 1960s, with lyrics that poke fun at the desire for luxury items such as a Mercedes Benz car. Joplin’s raw, emotive vocals, accompanied only by a simple piano melody, create an intimate, confessional sound that perfectly complements the song’s message of anti-consumerism. “Mercedes Benz” remains one of Joplin’s most iconic songs, with its humor, social commentary, and stripped-down sound making it a must-listen for fans of classic rock and 60s counterculture.
16.Hard Times in New York – Bob Dylan
“Hard Times in New York” is a song by Bob Dylan, featured on his debut album “Bob Dylan,” which was released in 1962. The track is a raw, bluesy tune that reflects Dylan’s experiences as a struggling musician in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s. The song’s lyrics paint a vivid picture of life on the margins, with references to pawn shops, cheap hotels, and hard times. Dylan’s sparse, acoustic guitar playing and gravelly vocals create a sense of urgency and authenticity that perfectly capture the song’s message of struggle and perseverance. “Hard Times in New York” remains a favorite among Dylan fans, with its raw sound and poignant lyrics making it a classic of the early 60s folk scene.
17.Can You Spare a Dime – Bing Crosby
“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” is a song written by Jay Gorney and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg in 1930, and has been covered by many artists over the years, including Bing Crosby. The track is a powerful commentary on the economic devastation of the Great Depression, with lyrics that describe the plight of the many Americans who had lost everything due to the financial crisis. Crosby’s smooth, emotive vocals, accompanied by a haunting piano melody, create a sense of pathos and desperation that perfectly capture the mood of the times. “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” remains a timeless classic of the Great American Songbook, a poignant reminder of the struggles of the past that still resonates today.
18.No Woman, No Cry – Bob Marley
“No Woman, No Cry” is a classic reggae song by Bob Marley, originally released in 1974. The track is an anthem of hope and resilience, with lyrics that encourage listeners to persevere through hard times and find comfort in the love of others. Marley’s smooth, soulful vocals and the song’s laid-back, feel-good rhythm have made it a favorite among fans of reggae and world music. “No Woman, No Cry” is a timeless classic that has inspired countless artists and continues to be a beloved part of Bob Marley’s legacy.
19.Common People – Pulp
“Common People” is a hit song by British band Pulp, released in 1995. The track is a biting satire of class differences in British society, with lyrics that tell the story of a wealthy girl who wants to experience life among the “common people.” Frontman Jarvis Cocker’s sardonic, deadpan delivery and the song’s catchy, upbeat melody have made it a favorite among fans of Britpop and alternative rock. “Common People” is a classic of 90s British music and remains a favorite among fans of Pulp and the genre.
20.Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
“Livin’ on a Prayer” is a rock classic by Bon Jovi, released in 1986. The song tells the story of Tommy and Gina, two young lovers struggling to make ends meet in a tough world. With its iconic guitar riff, powerful vocals, and catchy chorus, “Livin’ on a Prayer” has become a beloved anthem of hope and perseverance. The song remains a staple of classic rock radio and is a fan favorite at Bon Jovi concerts.
21.Another Day in Paradise – Phil Collins
“Another Day in Paradise” is a poignant ballad by Phil Collins, released in 1989. The track highlights the struggles faced by the homeless and the indifference of those who pass them by. Collins’ emotive vocals and the song’s simple, acoustic arrangement have made it a favorite among fans of soft rock and adult contemporary music. “Another Day in Paradise” was a commercial and critical success, earning Collins a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1991. The song remains a powerful reminder of the importance of empathy and compassion towards those less fortunate.