Money makes the world go ‘round. But what do you do if you have no money? Depending on your situation, you might have to suffer the wrath of hearing countless songs about being broke!
In this article, I’m going to provide you with a list of my favorite songs that talk about being strapped for cash. Hopefully, if you’re going through a bit of a financial hardship—or perhaps you’re just in the mood to listen to songs about having no money, you’ll find one or two records on this list to add to your playlist rotation.
Memorable Songs About Being Broke
Let’s begin this list with a song by Dolly Parton.
Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton
In this particular story, Dolly sings about a pile of rags that had been donated to her family. Seeing that her daughter didn’t have anything warm for winter, Parton’s mom sewed the pieces together and made a “coat of many colors”.
As she sewed, she told the youngster the Biblical story of Joseph and his multicolored coat. Dolly happily arrives at school…only to find people making fun of her raggedy coat and her poverty. But in true Dolly style, she stands up for the hand-sewn gift that her mother made for her and takes pride in not only the gift itself, but the love behind it.
“Although we had no money, I was rich as I could be. In my coat of many colors my momma made for me.”
Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant
With such a positive sound, and popularity on the dance floor, it’s kind of surprising to find out this classic song is about the 1981 Brixton riots. But Mr. Grant’s catchy song was indeed a melancholy tribute. The 1981 Brixton riots came at a time of financial desperation for England. One third of the country was below the poverty line!
And 65% of the jobless citizens were Black. A police operation meant to take a strong stance against the increased crime soon shined a light on unjust racial profiling conducted by the cops. Because of this, riots broke out on the streets in a shopping area in Brixton, London. An area popularly called “Electric Avenue.”
”Workin’ so hard like a soldier. Can’t afford a thing on the tv. Deep in my heart, I’m warrior. Can’t get food for them kid.”
Mr. Banker by Lynard Skynard
On this track, our singer has had his beloved father pass away. But he has no money to afford a funeral.
As anyone would, our narrator goes to the bank to ask for a loan. And just as so many before him, he is denied. Our singer is heartbroken and pleads his case to the deciding banker. Hopefully, he will be able to bury his father, respectively.
“I would not be here on my knees, but hey Mr. Banker, it means so much to me.”
Mockingbird by Eminem
Eminem has never been shy about telling his listeners just how he got his start. In fact, he references his impoverished beginnings quite often. In “Mockingbird,” our artist tells us of how he used to struggle as a child and then as a young father with a broken heart.
The artist has no problem painting us scenes of himself crying out of desperation after not providing a good Christmas or the magic moment where he finally gets discovered. He obviously became the famous man you see before you now. But life wasn’t always sweet to Eminem.
“ I sat up the whole night, cryin’…’cause daddy felt like a bum.”
What It’s Like by Everlast
Everyone falls on sad times in their life. It’s just a part of living. So, you would think that we as humans have become more compassionate for our fellow man, right?
Well… not always.
Everlast made everyone uncomfortable by proving to our faces that we, as a people, often ignore the strife of others even when it is clear. The public is still quick to cast stones and negative judgment when presented with issues like homeless people, stopped teen pregnancies and crime.
“He asks a man for what he can spare, with shame in his eyes.”
I Got You Babe by Sonny and Cher
On this well-known song from the 1960s, the dynamic duo of Sonny and Cher sing about people putting them down for staying in a young relationship.
And why do they do this? Well, in part because their peers point out that Sonny and Cher have no cash. But where they are deficient in money, they make up in love.
But…I bet some rent money would be nice too. I’m just sayin’.
“They say our love won’t pay the rent. Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent.”
For the First Time by The Script
Financial hardship can bring about the end of even the strongest of relationships. A lack of money can lead to increased stress, which in turns leads to more arguments and, a break-up. But having someone you love can also decrease a couple’s unhappiness during times of monetary desperation.
Being in a couple can supply a space for venting, being emotionally honest and thus relief and connection as we get to see in this song. A story about second chances and enduring love, “For the first time” will speak to those fighting for their love as well as fighting to make ends meet.
“Got a new job now in the unemployment line”
Royals by Lorde
Young people are resourceful and often seem to be able to find hope and positivity even in the darkest times. Lorde sings about her envy of the wealthy as a youngster. Never being able to afford the things in the songs she used to listen to, she dreamt of a lavish life.
Now, as a young adult, she doesn’t have a lot of monetary fortune, but she and her friends still find ways to survive AND have fun. She may be counting a small amount of money… but at least she’s on her way to a party!
“And everyone who knows us knows that we’re fine with this. We didn’t come from money”
Money by Blake Shelton
There aren’t many songs about how being broke can be sexy… so Blake Shelton made one! Our country star talks about how dire the financial situation is for himself and his girlfriend. They barely have enough to get by!
But lack of funds does not always equal lack of desire as we see here. Blake reassures his woman that despite being poor in money, she will always be rich in his lust for her.
“ Ridin’ rubber, rent checks, livin’ on ramen. Chappin’ our a** ’cause we can’t afford Charmin.”
Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn is a country icon these days but there was a time where she was just a poor kid, covered in coal soot. In her famous tune, she describes the day-to-day struggle for a struggling young family.
Her father worked himself to the bone and her mother did the same at home. Neither ever gave up to the poverty. And they never made their children feel unloved.
“Daddy loved and raised eight kids on a miner’s pay. Mommy scrubbed our clothes on a washboard every day.”
Last Dollar by Tim McGraw
Some say that not being tied down by material possessions is the best way to live. And that is the exact stance Tim is making in this cute song! His family and friends may pity him for not having a home or anything tangible. But he sees himself as… free!
Where’s the risk if you have “nothing to lose?”
“I’m down to my last dollar. I’ve walk right though my shoes. Just a small reminder of the hell that I’ve gone through.”
$ave Dat Money by Lil Dickie
This rapper (or his) style will not make everyone happy. But his song (and the video connected to it) are massively hilarious!
Dave (aka Lil Dickie) is a down-to-earth man who needs to save his cash. And becoming a famous rapper won’t change that! Lil Dickie tells us exactly what he spends and where. He refuses to be overcharged for even the smallest thing.
Challenging the popular theme of being ridiculously wealthy in rap videos, Dickie even decides to make the cheapest yet most fabulous rap video ever. If you want a laugh, we suggest looking it up!
“Drugs are generic but still work the same. I get logins for Netflix from my cousin Greg. Thanks Greg!”
Changes by 2Pac
Changes is about a lot of issues—policing of black bodies, suicidal thoughts, and financial and mental poverty. Because while being broke is first and foremost a tangible problem one faces, it can also be a mindset one inherits and maintains.
On this track, 2Pac raps about his harsh living conditions and how it destroys his mental wellbeing. The song also illustrates the cycle of violence some people face in certain communities, and how simply being hungry will make you do the worst things to another human being.
I’m tired of being broke
And even worse, I’m black
My stomach hurts
So I’m lookin’ for a purse to snatch
The dirty truth is that this is a song that’s an indictment on America and how it treats some of its citizens in certain communities, especially inner city ghettos. If people are stuck in poor living conditions with no jobs, money or food, what do you expect will happen?
And, more importantly, why are you okay with it?
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No Scrubs by TLC
Did you really think I’d leave this one off the list? If ever there were an anthem dedicated to women that are tired of dealing with men that are strapped for cash, it’s No Scrubs.
Admittedly, this is a pretty harsh song towards men that might not have a lot of money right now, but are working hard towards securing their financial future. But as much as the ladies of TLC don’t want a financial scrub, the bigger picture of this song is that they don’t want someone that had the mentality of a loser in life.
Yes, this song is about paying no mind to the man with no money, but it’s also about bypassing men that have no ambition:
A scrub is a guy that thinks he’s fly
And is also known as a busta
Always talkin’ ’bout what he wants
And just sits on his broke a**, so
Between certain TLC and Destiny’s Child joints that came out at the turn of the century, these ladies were taking dudes to task left and right. And while some may choose to write think pieces on the societal implications or on-going gender wars of songs like these, for me, it’s hard to argue against the fact that this was one of the most memorable songs of the entire 1990s.
Young, Dumb and Broke by Khalid
Aww, come on. Let’s give him a break–he’s a young kid.
Khalid jumped into the R&B scene a few years ago and immediately created his own lane. He’s not bombastic or overly sexual. And he doesn’t have dance moves like Ne-Yo or Usher or Chris Brown.
Khalid is just…well…himself–smooth, controlled, and a fairly open book.
On this love song, Khalid courts love–but his major pitch involves the element of naïveté. Khalid wants to convince a girl that he really likes her, but he’s also conflicted. He kind of wants to be in a relationship–but doesn’t totally want to commit to anything serious. He certainly loves the girl in his life, but he recognizes his age (and the fact that he’s young, dumb and broke) should almost be an inherent reason for him not to commit. And he wants her to understand this reality.
It’s kind of the perfect song for a teenager (or perhaps someone in their early 20s), who is still trying to figure out life and love, and how both become a bit more complex as we age.
As you listen to various songs about being broke, it becomes apparent that so many people have been where you are (or perhaps were you might have been). No, music will not infuse you with money or lift you out of a bad circumstance, but it can give you comfort when you need it, or a nice injection of motivation to kick start your patch to riches.
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