Ever since I can remember, music has been a big influence in my life. From my very earliest memories, music has brought me so much joy and provided inspiration. I grew up on a very eclectic group of tastes from my parents, so it was not unusual for me to listen to opera, classical, country, rock, pop, and R&B on any given day.
As I got older, I was exposed to more varieties of music I had never heard before. Around the time I was 9 years old, I got introduced to a band that would result in an enduring relationship and forever be a game changer.
The Holy Triumvirate
I spent a lot of the summer with my older cousins in the summer of 1981, They were really into this new album that had come out called “Moving Pictures”. Along with that, they also cruised around listening to the cassette of a live album called “All the World Is a Stage”. It was the summer when my eyes were opened and I fell in love with the music of three guys from Ontario now affectionately referred to as the “Holy Triumvirate” (google it and see what comes up) – the band Rush.
Since this is a personal finance and fitness blog, I won’t go into a long dissertation on the epic nature of Rush. Let’s just say that I have always fit the mold of the stereotypical fan (who of course happens to also be very smart and cool) who loves their music and takes a massive amount of inspiration from their work.
If you are a fan of the show “The Goldbergs” you have probably seen the character of Johnny Atkins who wears nothing but Rush t-shirts and converts Erica Goldberg into a Rush fanatic with one listening of “Tom Sawyer” in the episode appropriately entitled “Rush”. Let me just say that I counted the T-shirts in that episode and I owned almost every one of them. As a resident of Michigan who lives about 20 minutes from the Canadian border, I loved the line, “They’re from Canada where it’s super cold, so they have to rock super hard to stay warm.”
The Big Money
So, you are wondering – how I can fit a lesson about money into a blog posting discussing my affection toward the Triumvirate? Have no fear. Not only do I love the music of the band, but just as important to me are the lyrics. Drummer Neal Peart has been the primary lyricist for the group since joining. He wrote on a variety of subjects dear to my heart. Fantasy, science fiction, philosophy, history, social, and humanitarian issues are a consistent theme.
I want to discuss a song that came out in 1985 entitled “The Big Money”. I think it has so much food for thought. The song is on the album “Power Windows” which has song lyrics that deal with the various manifestations of power in the world. The phrase “money makes the world go around” is well-known for a reason. Money has been a huge source of power and influence since the first coin was mined back around the 5th century B.C.E.
Money Equals Power
The song talks about the sheer magnitude of the global economy and the various forces created by money. We see the effect of it every day in our life. Money creates a “push and pull” effect – economically, socially, and politically. It’s so embedded into our lives we don’t even realize the powerful effects sometimes.
“Big money goes around the world – Big money underground”
“Big money got a mighty voice – Big money makes no sound”
It is easy to get caught up in the alluring power of money. Sadly, many people think it is the key to happiness and success. While it can contribute to a happy lifestyle, it does not guarantee it. Unfortunately many individuals have been lead to ruin by these misguided emotions. While money in and of itself is not “good” nor “bad”, we have seen many people suffer devastating consequences in the relentless pursuit of it.
“Sometimes pushing people around – sometimes pulling out the rug”
“Sometimes pushing all the buttons – sometimes pulling out the plug”
“Big money got a heavy hand – big money take control”
“Big money got a mean streak – big money got no soul”
The Give and Take of Money
The song also talks about some of the good things money can accomplish. Money can be used to show support toward others and help those in need. Even in those situations, we often see that good intentions with money are not fulfilled. Charitable donations that do not reach the intended people, dishonesty and theft – the list goes on.
“Big money goes around the world – big money give and take”
“Big money done a power of good – big money makes mistakes”
Ultimately, I love the song and the lyrics because it really highlights the complex nature of the relationship all of us have with money. Money can be a real paradox to all of us. It can misguide us and trick us into foolish mistakes. Sometimes it can motivate us and be used as a tool to a very satisfying life. It can build up our hopes and quickly bring disappointment.
Dreams of Wealth
All of us have blind spots when it comes to money. Obviously, we all need it to survive and make a living in this world. It is amazing to think about how much our imaginations are fueled by dreams of wealth.
I’ve talked about in my books and on my blog about the amusement I would get from co-workers who were buying tickets for those massive Powerball jackpots. They would talk for a day or two about how they were going to spend the money and tell the boss off after they won. Of course, I didn’t want to steal their thunder by telling them the odds were overwhelmingly against their favor. Besides, they were generous enough to promise me a share of their millions!
“It’s that old-time religion – It’s the kingdom they would rule”
“A Cinderella story – on a tumble of the dice”
The bottom line is that money is a huge part of our existence as human beings. It affects all of us regardless of who we are or where we live. We see the manifestation of excessive wealth and the devastating effects of poverty. We see how it influences our thinking and how the allure of easy wealth has led many on the road to financial ruin.
Choose a Path That Is Clear
Rush has also been influential through its lyrical themes of choosing your own path and maintaining your individual dignity. I like to discuss that topic when it comes to money. Instead of letting money control your life, you can control your relationship with money. Instead of becoming a slave to grind in order to keep up appearances with others, you can avoid the snare of rampant consumerism, easy credit, and out of control spending.
My hope is for you is that you have a healthy relationship with money and use it as a tool to build the life you want. It will not bring automatic happiness but it certainly can be used to build a very satisfying journey. Don’t get caught up in the allure of the “Big Money”. You have a lot of control over how you spend your hard earned cash. Remember the wisdom of the Masters from the North and you will be on the road to success.
All italics “The Big Money” by Rush: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart