Money (That's What I Want)

Money (That's What I Want)
"Money (That's What I Want)"
Single by Barrett Strong
B-side Oh I Apologize
Released August 1959
Format 45rpm, 78rpm
Genre R&B
Length 2:39
Label Tamla T-54027
Anna A-1111
Writer(s) Janie Bradford/Berry Gordy
Barrett Strong singles chronology
"Let's Rock"
"Money (That's What I Want)"
"Yes, No Maybe So"

"Money (That's What I Want)" is a 1959 hit single by Barrett Strong for the Tamla label, distributed nationally on Anna Records. The song was written by Tamla founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford, and became the first hit record for Gordy's Motown enterprise.



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. The single became Motown's first hit in June 1960, making it to #2 on the US R&B chart and #23 on the US pop chart. The song was listed as #288 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Cover versions

Although the best known cover versions are probably those by The Beatles and The Flying Lizards, the song has been covered by a myriad of artists, with several of them reaching significant positions in a variety of charts - for example, The Kingsmen reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Bern Elliott and the Fenmen reached #14 on the UK singles chart.

The Flying Lizards' version has been used in many places, including the film soundtracks for The Wedding Singer, Empire Records, Charlie's Angels and Lord of War, and it has also been used in the television shows Nip/Tuck and Ashes To Ashes.

The following incomplete list is a random selection:[1]

Avengers, Avengers 1999 Died for Your Sins
B-52's, B-52's
Babys, Babys 1976 Anthology
Backbeat Band, Backbeat Band 1994 Backbeat
Beatles, Beatles 1963 With the Beatles
Bern Elliott and the Fenmen 1963 Reached #14 on the UK Singles chart
Bloodstone 1976 Train Ride to Hollywood[2]
Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers
Bob Rivers 2000 Chipmunks Roasting On an Open Fire
Bobby Freeman
Boyz II Men 2007 Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA
Bruno Mars 2010 Doo-Wops & Hooligans tour
Buddy Guy 1968 A Man and the Blues
Chambers Brothers, Chambers Brothers 1965 People Get Ready[3]
Cheap Trick 1988 Caddyshack 2
Danny Tenaglia feat Roxy
Dave Davies
Deighton Family, Deighton Family 1988 Acoustic Music to Suit Most Occasions[4]
Diana Ross 1977 An Evening with Diana Ross
Doors, Doors 1967 Live at the Matrix 1967
Dr. John 1994 Television
Dwight Twilley
Etta James 1964 Etta James Rocks the House
Everly Brothers, Everly Brothers 1965 Beat & Soul
Flying Lizards, Flying Lizards 1979 The Flying Lizards
Freddie and the Dreamers 1963 Freddie and the Dreamers
Freddy Fender
Great White 1988 Recovery: Live!
Hal Blaine 1966 Drums! Drums! A Go Go[5]
Hanson 1998 Live from Albertane
Ike & Tina Turner
Jerry Lee Lewis 1961 Jerry Lee's Greatest
Jimi Hendrix Hendrix covered the song when a member of
Curtis Knight & the Squires
on the album Knock Yourself Out
Jimmy Barnes
Joey Dee & the Starliters
John Belushi 1978 Animal House
John Lee Hooker 1966 It Serves You Right to Suffer
John Lennon 1969 Sweet Toronto Released as Live Peace in Toronto 1969
by the Plastic Ono Band
during Lennon's solo career.
Josie and the Pussycats 2001 Music from the film
Josie and the Pussycats
Jr. Walker & the All Stars 1966 Road Runner
Kaisers, Kaisers 1997 Squarehead Stomp!
Kingsmen, Kingsmen 1963 The Kingsmen in Person Released as a single: 1964
#16 on Billboard Hot 100
#17 on Cashbox
Knickerbockers, Knickerbockers 1965 Jerk & Twine Time
Led Zeppelin 1972 - Encore at 19 June concert
Little Richard 1967 The Explosive Little Richard
Liverbirds, Liverbirds
Lonnie Mack
Lou Christie
Miracles, Miracles 1961 Hi... We're The Miracles
Paul Revere & the Raiders
Pearl Jam 2005 Pearl Jam 2005 North American
and Latin American Tour
Pretenders, Pretenders 1984 Revenge of the Killer B's, Vol. 2[6][7]
RC Succession
Rembrandts, Rembrandts
Renée Geyer 1978 Winner
Popcorn and the Mohawks 1960 Released as a single
Rolling Stones, Rolling Stones 1964 The Rolling Stones (EP)
Ronnie Milsap 1985 Lost in the Fifties Tonight
Roy Orbison 1970 The Big O
Scissor Sisters
Searchers, Searchers 1963 Meet The Searchers
Secret Machines 2005 The Road Leads Where It's Led
Shakers, Shakers 1963 Let's Do the Slop, Twist, Madison, Hully Gully...[8][9]
Shonen Knife
Smashing Pumpkins, Smashing Pumpkins 2000 The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music
Sonics, Sonics 1965 Here Are The Sonics
Stooges, Stooges 1973 Heavy Liquid Although Heavy Liquid was released in 2005,
the recordings are dated 1973.
Storys, Storys 2008 The Bank Job
Supremes, Supremes 1966 The Supremes A' Go-Go
Thee Midniters
Todd Rundgren 1972 Something/Anything? The recording is part of a medley entitled "Overture--My Roots".
Tragically Hip, Tragically Hip
Trashmen, Trashmen 1964 Surfin' Bird
Undertakers, Undertakers 1963 (Released as a single)
Waylon Jennings 1964 Waylon at JD's
Who, Who

The song was featured in the movie National Lampoon's Animal House in which it was performed by John Belushi. When the Blues Brothers band covered the song 18 years later on their Blues Brothers & Friends: LIVE! From Chicago's H.O.B album it was performed by John's brother James Belushi in the role of Brother Zee Blues along with Elwood Blues and Sam Moore.

Also, the song was used in the Beatles biopic Backbeat performed by a band composed of alt-rock musicians (including Soul Asylum's David Pirner, R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, and Nirvana's Dave Grohl). It was mimed in the film by the actors playing the Beatles.

"I Need Some Money"

"I Need Some Money"
Single by John Lee Hooker
from the album That's My Story
B-side No More Doggin´
Released June 1960
Format 45
Recorded New York City
February 9, 1960
Genre Blues
Length 2:25
Label Riverside 438
Producer Orrin Keepnews

"I Need Some Money," a song John Lee Hooker may have been performing live for some time previous to 1959, has lyrics that are similar to "Money (That's What I Want)". For example, even though the music is different, the first verses are:

"The best thing in life is free
But you can give it to the birds an' bees
I need some money, Need some money. Oh yeah, what I want"


"The best things in life are free
But you can keep 'em for the birds and bees
Now give me money, (that's what I want) that's what I want."

The question of which lyrics came first never seems to have been settled in any formal way; John Lee Hooker has full composition credits for "I Need Some Money", and it has been independently covered by other artists such as James Blood Ulmer and The Doors.

The Beatles' version

"Money (That's What I Want)"
Song by The Beatles from the album With The Beatles
Released November 22, 1963
Recorded July 18, 1963
Genre Beat
Length 2:47
Label Parlophone
Producer George Martin
With The Beatles track listing
Music sample
"Money (That's What I Want)"

The Beatles recorded "Money (That's What I Want)" 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.[10]

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. 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.[10]

Cultural references

  • Chumbawamba borrowed the chorus of this song for their song "Snip Snip Snip". However, for legal reasons, this portion of their song had to be removed from the version released on the album Shhh. (The original version, which also samples a number of other money-related songs, can be found on their unreleased album Jesus H. Christ.)
  • In the film This Is Spinal Tap, the band plays a parody song "Gimme Some Money" in a flashback to their skiffle days.
  • The theme song for movie Rogue Trader.
  • On Disney's D-TV, there was a music video playing the song along with money-related scenes from six short films: "The Klondike Kid" (1932), "Scrooge McDuck and Money" (1967), "The Delivery Boy" (1931), "Mickey's Nightmare" (1932), "Get Rich Quick" (1951) and "Plane Crazy" (1928).
  • The 1990s cartoon, Tiny Toon Adventures, featured an episode where Montana Max, kid billionaire & antagonist on the show, sang the song & even had his own video to go along with it; the audio used, however, was the Barrett Strong version of the song.
  • In the 1985 Miami Vice episode, "Made for Each Other", the original Barrett Strong version is played in the opening scene as the vice squad raid a warehouse where counterfeit money is printed.
  • Used frequently in the 1994 Ted Danson film Getting Even with Dad.
  • A portion of the Barrett Strong version is also used in the background of the 1987 civil-rights documentary Eyes on the Prize, in episode three, "Ain't Scared of Your Jails" (which deals with the 1960 lunch-counter sit-ins in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Freedom Riders).
  • The song is used in the opening credits of the 2009 Mark Burnett television show Shark Tank.
  • The song passes on the Empire Central Radio on the game Mafia II.
  • The Flying Lizards' version appears in a 2011 TV commercial for Taco Bell.


  1. ^ Albums containing a track with the title: Money (That's What I Want),
  2. ^ Review, Train Ride to Hollywood, Bloodstone,
  3. ^ Review, People Get Ready], The Chambers Brothers,
  4. ^ Review, Acoustic Music to Suit Most Occasions, The Deighton Family,
  5. ^ Review, Drums! Drums! A Go Go, Hal Blaine,
  6. ^ Revenge of the Killer B's, Vol. 2,
  7. ^ A 1983 live recording appears on the 2007 re-release of The Pretenders Learning to Crawl album.
  8. ^ Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes, Liverpool Beat
  9. ^ David Britton, Kingsize Taylor — no pratt, interview with Kingsize Taylor, 1985
  10. ^ a b "Money (That's What I Want)". The Beatles Bible. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 


  • Lenny Carlson, "John Lee Hooker Vintage Blues Guitar", Mel Bay Publications, 1996.

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