MONEY & FAME by NEEDTOBREATHE

HARDLOVE by NEEDTOBREATHETrack: MONEY & FAME
Album: H A R D L O V E
Artist: NEEDTOBREATHE
Genre: modern gospel swamp pop rock
Music Rating: 10/10
Lyrics Rating: 9/10
Overall:
9/10
Sounds Like: The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Onerepublic, Switchfoot
Interesting Fact: This album has the best titles for its singles. The following sentence appeared as marketing to promote the sale of their upcoming album after the first two singles were released: “Preorder now to receive HAPPINESS and MONEY & FAME instantly!” 😆
Best thing About this Track: Holy horn synths! How? Just how? Why is this level of perfection even attainable for humans? Also what the saxophone?
One thing I wish was different: More lyrics. 3rd verse? A bridge perchance? I’m greedy, but that would’ve been amazing!
Website: NEEDTOBREATHE

Let’s make a list of wonderful things, shall we? Things that make my heart soar:

horns
weird theatrical piano synths
a saxophone that has lost its actual mind
gospel choirs
well placed snares
lyrical technicality
consistency
borrowed chords
minor chords used to joyous effect
textured vocals
things that remind me of my childhood
music that brings perspective to what is truly important

Well, what do you know? NEEDTOBREATHE just took that strangely specific shopping list and left me with this glorious gem of a song. That was super nice of them.

In all seriousness, this album is not really the type of music that I would typically gravitate towards. Though all of its components are things that I feverishly love, I’m not really a swampy person. (Check the genre at the top of the post if you’re confused right now.) Like, I went to a swamp once. It was awful. I got lost and was hiking for hours through a stinky, muggy, miry, foggy bog (say that 10x fast! Stinky, muggy, miry, foggy bog! Stinky, muggy, miry, foggy bog!) waist deep in water, getting cut up from wild foliage and eaten by mosquitos. I was also a little leery of crocodiles. Basically what I’m saying is: swamps are not traditionally my vibe. I don’t do southern well. I’m a germaphobe. I like clean music. Ask me to make something, and I’ll hand you a well-thought out, sterile noun that has been articulated from every angle. BORING! This song gives me life! This song is fun and free and joyous and important, all while maintaining its impressive level of technicality. Throw me to the crocodiles every once in a while! Art is not about staying in your comfort zone. I don’t want to live in a swamp, but visiting one makes for lasting memories and a great story! (But don’t actually throw me to the crocodiles. This is just a metaphor, people.)

Aside from judging music categorically, this song accomplishes some pretty amazing feats with a purposefully reduced painting palette. The melodic entirety of this song can be had in a mere 5 notes. That’s impressive! The melody in the verses draws only on the notes of a minor chord and its fourth. Going into the chorus, the only melodic addition is that of the minor 7th. Nevertheless, with the roots so close to home, that doesn’t mean that the accompaniment can’t play around a bit. We get much of the excitement of the piece from the compatible orbiting melodies of accompaniment. So, while traditional roles would designate the instrumentation as foundational with the vocals dictating a more fluid journey, this song brings home the message that your core identity is foundational and the excitement surrounding you is frivolity. Boom! I forgot to add to my list: abstract music theory that mimics philosophical observations of life.

Lyrically, this song just gets it. It’s so self-aware. I love it! Using quite basic, unencumbered language that is in obvious harmony with its bottomline, the song remains true to its identity and is entirely uninterested in ornamentation. That being said, its skeleton is indeed incredibly structurally sound. If I had only one word to describe this song, I think I would go with: faithful — and that’s not from the gospel vibe on the track. This song displays undeviating devotion to its purpose and person. I don’t really know what more can be said about it. “What do you kids want to know about now?”

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Lyrics:
I was sleeping with a loaded gun
I was scared of all things I’d done
Yeah, I know I’m not the only one
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright now

I was chasing down a high again
Trying to take whatever I could get
But you know I had to pay for it
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright now

I know that you know
That everybody goes where the lights go

What do you kids wanna know about now?
I made enough to make a young gun proud
Money and fame bring a man shame
Ain’t no doubt about it

What do you kids wanna know about now?
I found the bottom from the top somehow
Money and fame bring a man shame
Ain’t no doubt about it

Yeah, I’ve done some things that I regret
I was thinking I was fortunate
Now I’m working just to pay the debt
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright now

You never know until you’re offered it
But everybody’s got a price, I guess
It’s even lower than you think it is
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright now

I know that you know
That everybody goes where the lights go

What do you kids wanna know about now?
I made enough to make a young gun proud
Money and fame bring a man shame
Ain’t no doubt about it

What do you kids wanna know about now?
I found the bottom from the top somehow
Money and fame bring a man shame
Ain’t no doubt about it

What do you kids wanna know about now?
I seen the devil in the bright lights now
Money and fame bring a man shame
Ain’t no doubt about it

What do you kids wanna know about now?
I found the bottom from the top somehow
Money and fame bring a man shame
Ain’t no doubt about it

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