Money (That's What I Want) was written in 1959 by Motown founder Barry Gordy and Janie Bradford. The song was first recorded by 18 year old Barrett Strong that same year, with Gordy on piano, and it was released on Gordy's newly formed Tamla label. To increase the reach of the popular song it was also released on Gordy's short-lived Anna label. In April 1960 Gordy formed Motown Records, and he merged Tamla with Motown. In June of 1960 Money (That's What I Want) peaked at #2 on the Hot R&B charts - it was the first big hit for the Motown enterprise. Over the years, there have been many hit recordings of the song, including by The Beatles in 1963, and by UK New Wave band the Flying Lizards in 1979. Reportedly, Money (That's What I Want) came together in a spontaneous recording session with Gordy and Strong. Although Strong was originally given writing credit for the song, his name was removed 3 years after the song's release. When the copyright was renewed in 1987 Strong's writing credit was restored, only to be removed again the following year due to what Gordy claimed was a clerical error. Strong has disputed the label's writing credits for the song, and has always maintained that he co-wrote it with Gordy and Bradford. Ironically, being omitted from the songs credits, and royalties, must have had Strong thinking: "Money, That's What I Want." In the following years, Strong proved to be a brilliant songwriter for Motown Records, and he has been credited with co-writing many songs, such as: I Heard It Through the Grapevine, War, Smiling Faces Sometimes, Ball of Confusion, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, and many other hits.
Bob Marley released the original drum machine-driven No Woman, No Cry on his 1974 Natty Dread album. The following year Marley's stunning performance of the song at London's Lyceum Ballroom was captured for his Live album - this recording of the song became Marley's breakthrough pop hit. The deep and relaxed live version of the song was twice the length of the original 3 minute 46 second long studio version. Outside of Jamaica the song's title is often misunderstood. It doesn't mean the absence of a woman means there is no reason to cry, rather it is telling a struggling woman "no, don't cry." The song reflects on Marley's struggles and hardships growing up in the Trenchtown ghetto. "The Government Yard in Trenchtown" refers to the common area between the housing structures where people would gather. "We Had hard times but there was love and friendship and hope. Some of us were lost, they are remembered. Some survived and thrived. It's a glorious celebration of life in the face of hardship. Don't cry, we must live on." An apparent example of the song's sentiment was a hometown hero of Bob Marley's - Vincent Ford. In the area just around the Government Yard, Ford ran a soup kitchen, providing many, including Marley himself, with free meals. Ford was a paraplegic who lost his legs when he was young due to untreated diabetes. Marley credited several of his songs to Vincent Ford - the publishing royalties from the songs repayed him for his generousity, and enabled him keep feeding people. No Woman, No Cry, one of Marley's biggest hits, is one of the song's Marley credited to Vincent Ford.
In 1940 jazz icon Billie Holiday recorded her most popular and well-known song, God Bless The Child, which she had written with frequent collaborating composer Arthur Herzog Jr. The song was inspired by a clash she had with her mother. When she was a child, Billie's mother was in and out of her life, and she was mostly in the care other other family members. By the time she was a teenager, young Billie had a career singing in Harlem nightclubs. In 1940, now 25, she was in desperate need of money and asked her mother to help her with a loan. Over previous years she had given her mother thousands of dollars to help with her mother's restaurant. Then, after having been fired from touring with Count Basiie's crew, she found herself struggling financially. Despite her popularity, as she had just introduced her dark hit Strange Fruit, she needed some cash. Billie's mother refused to help her, and as the story goes, her mother exclaimed "God bless the child that got his own." The song began to form after the upsetting argument. At the beginning of the song, Billie seems to be responding directly to the bible (Matthew 25-29) when she says: "Them whose got shall get, them whose not shall lose. So the bible says, but it still is new." In 1976, God Bless The Child was honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame award.
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