Writing Considerations - Didn't Care About Money

This song came to be from three things:

- A happenstance conversation with Mike Gill

- A twitter challenge to write a two-minute song

- My newfound love of the B7 chord



Setting: London, evening, hanging in the man cave of my friend Mike Gill. We’re swapping stories and taking turns playing guitar, and perhaps, having a few adult beverages. The stories come ‘round to periods in our lives when we didn’t have much to our names. I quipped “I didn’t care about money until I didn’t have none”. I believe Mike said, “Now that sounds like a country song!” I agreed. And so, it went into the file on my phone with all the other song ideas.


Fast forward a few months. A person that I follow on Twitter was discussing how in the new normal of music, streaming is something that artists must consider when reaching their audience. And although streaming revenue is crap – you still need to think about how you can maximize it. In doing so, you need to keep in mind that the stream from a one-minute song pays the same as a five-minute song. In terms of streaming, “Happy Birthday” pays the same as “Stairway to Heaven”. All things being equal, this should incentivize artists to write shorter songs. The goal being, if you’ve written a good one – the listener is encouraged to stream that song again, or perhaps another from your catalog.


The challenge then was, “Can you write a two-minute song?” Obviously, the answer is “yes”, but how to pull this off well, and still tell a story? Straightaway we discussed things such as minimizing an introduction. You need to get to lyrics within ~15 seconds – just enough to get the first few bars of the chord progression. Don’t waste any time on musical interludes with screaming guitar solos. And then also minimize the outro – hit the hook, and then get out.


Ok – parameters set – now, what to write?


This is when I looked through my list of song ideas and found, “Didn’t care about money until I didn’t have none”.


That’s it – that’s the song.


Now – what key to write it in?


It just so happened that I had learned how to play the Foo Fighters “Learning to Fly”. This song ends on a B7. I had always found the B7 chord difficult to play on the guitar. When you see the chord chart below you can see that your fingers are all “smooshed” together. And when you think about the other chords that might be played in a key that uses B7, you’ll typically see “easy” chords, like A or E. And making the transition from some of these open chords to the B7 can be tricky – both to pull it off in time, and with your fingers landing well enough that the chord sounds correct.


B7 guitar chord
B7 guitar chord

It took a bit of practice, but I finally got the hang of it (things you work on even after decades of playing the guitar). And the B7 chord sounds so cool. And 7th chords are great for country and blues songs – so now we were off to the races.


Following my, “just sing the words and the melody will pop out” mantra, I quickly had the chorus:

Chorus

B7

Didn’t care about money

A

Didn’t care about money

E

‘Til I didn’t have none

B7

Didn’t care about money

A

Didn’t care about money

E

‘Til I didn’t have none


Although I don’t play a straight E chord here, as I hammer on the G on the low string to give the song a nice blues feel.


I decided to keep the intro very short, just playing through the B7, A, and E, twice to get the feel of the song and then jump into the verse. Here, I decided to use a couple other tasty chords, C#m and F#m – and then, I could have used the open E, but decided to use the E7 just because, you know, why not have more 7th chords? (Right, there’s no good reason not to).


C#m F#m

Working night and day, just to pay my bills

C#m E7

Turning off my heat, giving me the chills

C#m F#m

I don’t care so much, ‘bout what other people think

A B7 E

When I can’t even afford to buy a drink


We hit the chorus, and then the second verse:


C#m F#m

Work my fingers down, ‘til they start to bleed

C#m E7

Tearing out my heart, all behind the scenes

C#m F#m

Putting in my time, so I can succeed

A B7 E

We all know money don’t grow on trees


You’ll note – each verse here is only four lines – and only one stanza – hitting the point of the story and then moving on.


Now, instead of hitting the verse again, to keep the song interesting, we add a little bridge.


A

Where’d my money go

B7

Got nothing left to show

C#m F#m A

My money’s all gone away…


And then we’re back into the hook and out. I decided to hit the chorus a few times on the way out because I had sort of proven, I could write a solid song in two minutes, why not hit the hook a few more times? The final studio version clocks in 2:33.


On to the next stream!






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