Wednesday, April 15, 2009

3 Songs That Are Actually About Doing Taxes

Wednesday was April 15th, Tax Day. Hope I'm not the first to tell you, because if I am and you're an adult you're probably gonna go to jail. Taxes are pretty important. Without them, we wouldn't have freeways, we wouldn't have firefighters, and most importantly, we wouldn't have hope.

As long as there has been pop music, there have been artists eager to load their music with subliminal messages. Lyrics are often chock full of innuendo and hidden meaning, and for years artists have utilized clever wordplay, metaphor, and more to sneak messages about doing taxes into their songs. So much so, in fact, that I'm almost forced to agree with all those parents' groups arguing about the evils of popular music's influence on children. Here are five songs you may think are about other things, but are really about doing taxes.

Blister in the Sun - Violent Femmes
Body and beats, I stain my sheets, I don't even know why
My girlfriend, she's at the end, she is starting to cry.

This song's lyrics are pretty overtly about doing one's finances. The protagonist of the song, feeling the financial strain of blistering in the "sun" that is the federal government, fears his yearly dues so much that he actually wets his bed. The Violent Femmes are also one of the few bands on this list willing to acknowledge the effects of financial woes on relationships, as the protagonist's girlfriend is also affected by his having to file taxes each year. Full lyrics here.

Praying Hands - Devo
You got your left hand,
You got your right hand.
The left hand's diddling
While the right hand goes to work.

Devo was a band known for their satirical commentary and off-kilter humor, so it's no surprise that they'd turn their acerbic wit on the mundane task of filling out that 1040 form. As the right hand, the writing hand, fills out the form, the idle left hand "diddles," which can only be interpreted as the urge to get back to exciting, non-tax-related activities. Later lyrics take it a step further, as Devo tells the listener to "assume the position, go into doggie submission"-- commanding the citizen to assume their position at the desk with pen in hand, filling out the yearly form with the rote animal instinct as a dog would have. Full lyrics here.

I Touch Myself - Divinyls
I love myself I want you to love me
When I feel down I want you above me,
I search myself I want you to find me,
I forget myself I want you to remind me,
I don't want anybody else
When I think about you I touch myself.

It's pretty clear what the Divinyls are trying to say here, but I can go down the line in case it isn't clear. The first three lines speak of an individual thriving in the consumer culture, succeeding through the ideals of individualism and group responsibility in a strong capitalist economy. In the fourth line, the singer acknowledges the tendency to sometimes forget civil duties even with the desire to fulfill them. Line five admits that despite the surface faults of taxing it's the best system we've got. Last, the singer admits that whenever they think about doing taxes, they are forced to take an introspective look at themselves and explore the person they've become over the past year. It truly is a song that follows the ups and downs of doing taxes. Full lyrics here.

Those are the three most popular songs about doing taxes. For more, check out Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself," The Vapors' "Turning Japanese," and Stan Freberg's "The Masturbation Song." That's all for tax day this year, kiddos-- hope you didn't get audited! Bye!

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