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As Notorious B.I.G. said, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” It’s hard to find a corner of your heart that holds sympathy for rock stars who have to pay more taxes than the average joe. On the other hand, lots of big name celebs aren’t good at math, don’t have the sense to hire a good accountant, or just plain think they can get away with not paying up at the end of the fiscal year.
Tea Party aside, no one complains as loudly about money as the stars who seem to have the most dough. Here, then, is a list of five great protest songs… and by “protest songs” we mean songs that protest the government treading on their hard earned cash. And we’re not even going to go with the most obvious one, The Beatles’ “Taxman.” But we will go with…
1. “Taxman, Mr. Thief” – Cheap Trick
These Beatles disciples take a rather broad swipe at the idea of taxation (and still name-drop The Fab Four). Their complaint has the nuance of a kid protesting his bedtime: “He hates you, he loves money, and he’ll steal your s*** and think it’s funny. Like The Beatles, even Dylan, now the taxman is out to get you.” Maybe they should have taken Dylan’s advice from “Ballad Of A Thin Man” and donated a bit more to “tax-deductable charity organizations.”
2. “Rip This Joint” – The Rolling Stones
“Wham! Bam! Birmingham! Alabam’ don’t give a damn!” What does that have to do with taxes? Well, not much. But the album it’s taken from, 1972’s Exile On Main Street, is generally regarded as the band’s finest moment… and it was recorded at Keith Richards’ rented mansion in Nice, France… where the band stayed after they fled England upon discovering they owed more in taxes than they could afford to pay.
3. “Who Will Buy My Memories?” – Willie Nelson
In 1992, Willie Nelson actually released an album called The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? It turns out, a lot of people did. Willie learned that his accounting firm, Price Waterhouse, hadn’t been paying his taxes for years and he owed quite a few million dollars. After lots of his belongings were auctioned off (many of them bought by friends and fans who then returned them to him), Willie released this solo acoustic double album to raise more money to pay back The Man.
4. “Moneygrabber” – Fitz & The Tantrums
This retro-pop group was one of the big success stories of 2011, and right about now they are probably filing their biggest tax return ever. So, their big hit, probably written about an ex-, can now double as a hate anthem about the taxman: “Don’t come back any time, you’ve already robbed me blind. This is your payback, moneygrabber.”
5. “Sunny Afternoon” – The Kinks
Head Kink Ray Davies was a master at writing dark tunes with upbeat tempos, and this is a prime example. So, if you aren’t wracked with sympathy when you hear him start off the song with “The tax man’s taken all my dough, and left me in my stately home, blazing on a sunny afternoon,” at least you might want to sing along.
Vetted by our friends at Lite 100.5 FM WRCH.
Visit the Lighter Side of Taxes at CBS Local.
Brian Ives is the Classic Rock/Classic Hits Producer for CBS Local Digital Media. Follow him on Twitter at @noexpiration.