Money isn’t important. Plenty of people without money are happy and successful and surrounded by love. Some people dream of being a millionaire so they can have multiple houses, fancy cars, and travel around the world. Some people look at money as a sign of success or a way to achieve happiness. Some of us, however, look at it as a path to personal freedom. The millionaires I’m referring to are those who did not grow up with privilege and made their own money, because they understand struggle and sacrifice and the opportunities money can provide. Money does not make people happy and I’m sure it comes with its own headaches, but it does allow a person a certain sense of liberation.
So does rock and roll.
I have been listening to rock and roll since I was 5 years old. The music was a little more than 20 years old at the time and obviously, I had no context for that. I just knew that I loved my mother’s Chuck Berry, Elvis, and Beatles records. I grew up listening to all kinds of music and I still love to explore, but rock and roll will always take up the most space in my heart. Until very recently, I don’t think I specifically related the music to freedom, but there is a connection to the passion I and many others have to it and that need for liberation. Music in general is a stress reliever, an escape, and way to express frustration or happiness. But rock and roll’s purpose is to disrupt the powers that be and restore individual liberty. AC/DC helped me discover that.
Got a rock ‘n’ roll band and a fast right hand
Gonna get to the top
Nothing’s gonna stop us—no, nothing!
AC/DC were working hard to be successful. Maybe that meant becoming rich rock stars and maybe it didn’t, but when Bon earnestly confesses “I’m trying to make a million,” I think what he’s really talking about is an end to the uncertainty and difficulty of trying to make it as a working musician. Until the 70s, most rock stars weren’t bringing in millions. Their agents, managers, and record companies were cashing in, but the artists themselves were focused on the craft and often ignorant of the business side of music. The Rolling Stones went into exile in the south of France in the early part of the decade to escape England’s crazy tax laws; they ended up creating perhaps their greatest album, Exile on Main St. (read my thoughts on it here). Most guys got into music for the women because that was more of a guarantee than buckets of gold.
“Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)” helped me realize that it is liberation I seek. When I was in my 20s, my best friend and I constantly commiserated over our boredom with life. We wanted excitement and drama and something really cool to happen to us. As I got older, I engaged in lots of excitement and drama and cool shit. But in my 40s, what I want more than anything is to be free from artificial obligations like working for other people and owing massive amounts of student loan debt. I want to write, work in the garden, listen to music, and spend time with my family and friends. That’s all I need to feel happy and successful.
That million dollars, tho…
It really ain’t no fun waiting around to be a millionaire. But every day that I go without making that money is one more day I can appreciate what I have now. Sometimes we can get up and go to a meaningless job and just tune out while waiting for that paycheck every other Friday. Sometimes we fight to get to the next level so we can have what we think is more stability. Sometimes we just don’t give a fuck anymore and we quit. Every time I listen to this song it makes me want to fuck shit up and be the Angus Young of writing, only doing what the fuck I want to do and doing it better than anybody.
That’s the only kind of freedom I can imagine right now.