Last summer I was watching VH-1 Soul (Before the animals at Comcast replaced it with that Centric bullsh*t. That’s what the world needed, Soul Train re-runs from 75 and Steve Harvey and his sycophants.) and I saw a cat singing a song called “I Need a Dollar”. I saw the video a few more times before Comcast switched my viewing selection and I kind of forgot about the song. A while back my homies, The Good Ole Boys had Aloe Blacc, the artist who performs “I Need a Dollar” as a guest on their radio show and this put the song back into my thoughts.
I downloaded Aloe Blacc’s cd “Good Things” via Amazon.com and it is very listenable cd. It’s a very simple, soul-driven sound that kind of reminds me of Bill Withers. As I listened to “Good Things” a few times I was struck by how poignant “I Need a Dollar” seemed in the financial times that we’re currently in.
Aloe Blacc — I Need A Dollar
I have never been unemployed. This is a major blessing that many people in 2011 can’t claim. I have been down on my luck before and being down on your luck can wreck havoc on your psyche. “I Need a Dollar” is sung with the voice of a man who is down on his luck for various reasons. The chorus is simple and straight to the point and it sets the tone for the track and the meaning behind it.
I need a dollar, a dollar, a dollar that’s what I need
Well I need a dollar, a dollar, a dollar that’s what I need
Said I need a dollar, a dollar, a dollar that’s what I need
And if I share with you my story would you share your dollar with me
Aloe Blacc takes the listeners through the struggle of finding oneself in dire economic times. At different points throughout “I Need a Dollar” Blacc illustrates the frustration of having a job, losing it, and then begging and pleading for a chance to maintain employment just to get by.
I had a job but the boss man let me go
I’m sorry but I won’t be needing your help no more
Please mister boss man, I need this job more than you know
But he gave me my last paycheck and he sent me on out the door
He then speaks on the erosion of one’s confidence and psyche that comes along with being down. He literally describes his situation as if he isn’t sure of the reality that he’s living in. His life, dreams, and goals are wasting away.
Well I don’t know if I’m walking on solid ground
Cause everything around me is falling down
And all I want is for someone to help me
By the end of the song he would find himself, like many men and women before him, self-medicating and wallowing in regret, low self-esteem, and pity. Turning to the bottle to chemically make himself forget (For a little while) the real pain and despair in his life.
I had some good old buddies their names is whiskey and wine
And for my good old buddies I spend my last dime
Now wine is good to me, he helps me pass the time
And my good old buddy whiskey keeps me warmer than the sunshine
Financially, many of the nation’s average Joes and Janes find themselves in spot. The current recession, which I hope and pray is over soon, has not a lot a folks, of all races, creeds, and colors on their collective arses. Hard times are just that, hard. I just thought “I Need a Dollar” covered the gamut of emotions and mindsets of someone who may be down on his or her luck. This is a song about someone who needs to be thrown a proverbial rope so they can remove themselves from the ditch their in. Someone who needs a break, no matter if it’s a big or a small break but just a break.
I wouldn’t call this an R&B song but recession blues. I wouldn’t call it a classic like “That Luck Old Sun” but I do think this is a good song. You feel the pain and frustration in Aloe Blacc’s voice as he tells you of his plight. (Unlike many who sing today Blacc actually makes you think that he’s been there, down in the gutter starving. Many of his fellow singers should take notes about being believable.) Can any of you think of a song of any genre that illustrates how it feels for folks who just need a chance or some help? Share them with me if any come to mind.
Vaya con Dios.