Money (That's What I Want)
|"Money (That's What I Want)"|
|Single by Barrett Strong|
|B-side||"Oh I Apologize"|
|Genre||Rhythm and blues|
|Writer(s)||Janie Bradford, Berry Gordy|
|Barrett Strong singles chronology|
"Money (That's What I Want)" is a 1960 song by Barrett Strong for the Tamla label, distributed nationally on Anna Records. It was written by Tamla founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford, and became the first hit record for Gordy's Motown enterprise. It went on to be covered by many artists including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones (1964), and the Doors, and with covers by the Flying Lizards (1979), the Sonics (1965), and the Kingsmen (1964) reaching high chart positions.
Anna Records was operated by Gwen Gordy, Anna Gordy and Billy "Roquel" Davis. Gwen and Anna's brother Berry Gordy had just established his Tamla label (soon Motown would follow), and licensed the song to the Anna label in 1960, which was distributed nationwide by Chicago-based Chess Records in order to meet demand; the Tamla record was a resounding success in the Midwest. The song features Strong curtly demanding that money is what he needs, more than anything else. In the US, the single became Motown's first hit in June 1960, making it to number 2 on the Hot R&B Sides chart and number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was listed as #288 on Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."
Writing credits dispute
Singer Barrett Strong claims that he co-wrote the song with Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford. His name was removed from the copyright registration three years after the song was written, restored in 1987 when the copyright was renewed, and then excised again the next year. Gordy has stated that Strong's name was only included because of a clerical error.
The song has been covered by many artists, with several of them reaching positions in a variety of charts. For example, The Kingsmen reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Bern Elliott and the Fenmen reached number 14 on the UK singles chart. The best known cover versions were performed by the Beatles and by the Flying Lizards, whose version peaked at number 22 on the dance charts.
The Beatles' version
|Song by The Beatles from the album With the Beatles|
|Released||November 22, 1963|
|Recorded||July 18, 1963|
|With the Beatles track listing|
The Beatles recorded "Money" in seven takes on July 18, 1963, with their usual lineup. A series of piano overdubs was later added by producer George Martin. The song was released in November 1963 as the final track on their second United Kingdom album, With the Beatles.
According to George Harrison, the group discovered Strong's version in Brian Epstein's NEMS record store (though not a hit in the UK, it had been issued on London Records in 1960). They had previously performed it during their audition at Decca Records on January 1, 1962, with Pete Best still on drums at the time. They also recorded it six times for BBC radio. A live version, taped at a concert date in Stockholm, Sweden in October 1963, was included on Anthology 1.
The song became a staple for other British Invasion bands, being released by the Searchers in August 1963, Freddie and the Dreamers also in 1963 and on the Rolling Stones' first U.K. EP in January 1964.
- John Lennon – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, screaming, handclapping
- Paul McCartney – backing vocals, bass, handclapping
- George Harrison – backing vocals, lead guitar, handclapping
- Ringo Starr – drums, handclapping
- George Martin – double-tracked piano
The Flying Lizards' version
|Single by The Flying Lizards|
|from the album The Flying Lizards|
In 1979, English band the Flying Lizards recorded a new wave version of the song. An unexpected hit, this version peaked at number 5 in the band's native country and at number 50 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also peaked at number 22 on the dance charts.