It’s Not The Money, Man

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This is a “lost” song from the try-anything time just before the Nightmares were formed. It was recorded for a vinyl compilation of Columbia bands some guy was putting out. I didn’t have a band at the time, so Gid and I just put it together ad hoc with whoever was around from the uptown pool: Dave Capello on drums, Steve “Blood” Bernstein on trumpet, Tex (in our first real collaboration) played all the guitars, John Travis played bass, and Carrie Hamilton sang the backup vocals. Gid basically produced the thing, played some organ and scribbled musical notation on napkins.

An earlier incarnation of this song had served as the cornerstone of the Mystery Dates, the short-lived, post-Student Teachers band I formed with Danny Wattenberg, who had fronted the very popular Casuals. Danny wrote the lyrics for the second verse. The first verse I wrote, and it’s basically true. A girl called Lori Lane did indeed once try to kill me with a BB gun. (She also once toppled a bookcase on top of me. As a matter of fact, she also once had me trapped in an alcove on the stairway landing outside her apartment on Claremont Ave. while she bombarded me from her doorway with what seemed to be an endless supply of Miller pony bottles. All of Lori’s neighbors popped their heads out to witness the calamity. No one thought to call the cops, but they did seem to enjoy the show.)

It’s Not The Money, Man

(Shelley/Wattenberg)

They had a wicked night
And ended it before they even got in bed
She took the BB gun and loaded it
And pointed it right at his head

She looked so wild he said, I must collect
She said, I haven’t got the bread
She wasn’t being very rational
He looked into her eyes and said

He said, It’s not the money, man
It’s my angel
It’s not the money, man
Give me back my angel

His erotic dream
Was that she danced naked on the fire escape
She held a blue book to each breast
And in her navel there was grape

Now, the cockfights were in progress four flights down
The sound of wagers filtered all the way up
He was impatient as he said this to her shadow
Cast upon the drape

He said, It’s not the money, man
It’s my angel
It’s not the money, man
Give me back my angel

11 Replies to “It’s Not The Money, Man”

  1. The picture is Tiemann Place looking east towards Broadway? Man, haven’t heard this one in a long long time.

  2. Oh dear oh my… I didn’t realize this song still existed… or even that it ever existed at all. In fact I wasn’t sure it wasn’t something I dreamed rather than actually heard. Although if it was a dream, it is odd that what I remembered best was the fairly straightforward chorus rather than the surrealistic verses.

  3. “Stu”: Yes, indeed — a view of Tiemann looking east towards Broadway and the 125th St. subway station. Apparently you are smarter than a monkey! Well, actually, I know some monkeys who are pretty fucking smart — let’s just say that you are smarter than many New York cab drivers.

    And Tim, you raise some interesting questions about the metaphysics of songs. I wish I could talk you down, say something reassuring, but except for the sunburn, I’m not even 100% sure that I exist.

  4. Aw, Danny — when I saw your name I was hoping you were going to give us a glimpse into the mindset that produced the second verse — not grouse about the paucity of appropriate Google-search images pertaining to upper Claremont and its environs.

    Though I have to say, LaSalle was the more friendly and inviting of the two bookend streets. Tiemann was always kind of scary and exotic to me. (Baksh Roti, etc.)

  5. LaSalle was also the more euphonious of the pair, and as a result made it in to two Casuals lyrics. One was “Coquetta Pequena” (which would resurface as an Eleanor and the Obvious number, if memory serves). The other was the aforementioned “Baksh Roti,” penned by the afore-posting Tim Horrigan. He robbed Tiemann of the roti shop, one of its few claims to fame, moving it to LaSalle for the sake of poetic meter: “Noontime on LaSalle Street, time to have my lunch/Curry platters cost four bucks — chicken, goat or conch.” But — as we see — Tiemann affords the broader, more picturesque vista, and now gets its belated revenge.

  6. Philip — This must be kizmet. I was just downstairs in the basement playing ‘Tropical Fish’ for my eight year old, with a segue into ‘Money, Man’, but then I couldn’t remember the second verse. Impulsive Google search and here I am. Glad to be here.

  7. Hi, Gid — I would say 8 years old is about the right target demo for “Tropical Fish.” “Money, Man,” on the other hand, probably deserves the parental warning sticker. It gets a little racy.

  8. Gid! So glad to see you stumbled by. Kizmet, indeed. Obviously, you’ve been on my mind. And I have to agree with Danny — “Money, Man” is at least PG-13. (Now, I hope someone will dig up a recording of “Tropical Fish.”)

  9. Philip, do you have a digital copy of the CUTS compilation? Someone was asking me for one a while back…

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