Posts filed under “Music”

Money Doesn’t Talk, It Swears

Happy Birthday Bob Dylan!



How Bob Dylan’s message in ‘It’s Alright, Ma’ applies to the investment business.

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying….

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony

– Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

Arguably “It’s Alright, Ma” is the best written Bob Dylan song. It was written in 1964, covered by Roger McGuinn on the soundtrack for the 1969 movie Easy Rider and performed regularly by Dylan and The Band on the 1974 tour during the Watergate scandal.

The song is 20 stanzas long, and the rhyming, imagery and emotional depth are unparalleled. It is dark in content — a message from the mid-1960s, shedding light on society’s flaws.

The song starts with an apocalyptic tone, which was not only a recurring Dylan theme early in his work but it was also a sign of the times. The body of the song deals with the remorseless working of things — that whatever is wrong can’t be stopped. No doctrinaire optimism will turn the ship around by itself.

In the fifth stanza, Dylan relates how the actions of powerful people impacts us all.

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Except hatred

In the first line below, Dylan sings that if you’ve read enough history and/or have been a keen enough observer of human nature, you kind of learn what to expect. The second line might be a warning to watch out for people’s partisan political agendas.

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it

He dishes it out to both optimists and pessimists and their partisanship hang-ups. Later, in the reference to the president of the United States, the minstrel reminds us that even the most powerful are fallible.

“Although the masters make the rules/For the wise men and the fools” points to the anger and disdain that Dylan has for policymakers. And “he not busy being born is busy dying,” used by President Carter in his 1976 acceptance speech for the Democratic Presidential nomination and also by Al Gore, means that powerful people will be judged.

Toward the end of “It’s Alright, Ma” Dylan submits that a life unexamined is an empty vessel and is not worth living.

Below is how I see Bob Dylan’s message in the song and its application to the investment business:

  • Read enough history, Dylan relates, and you can learn what to expect in the future. (History and markets rhyme.) The song matches the massive importance we place upon our past and the events that have led us to where we are today and where we might be going into the future.
  • Money has great influence, though sometimes its impact is perverse. Think of quantitative easing’s impact on markets, the growing schism between the haves and have-nots, and the threat of screwflation that poses risks ahead. (Note: The Fed’s legacy of Ben Bernanke might be judged harshly in the fullness of time.)
  • The song does not express optimism in the possibility of political solutions. Think of our inert and partisan leaders in Washington and their unwillingness to address our cyclical and structural fiscal problems.
  • We are all being fed a false picture of reality in terms of economic growth and corporate profit prospects. Think of the gap between rising P/E ratios and the lowly 10-year U.S. note yield.
  • We shouldn’t live our investment lives with our heads down and our eyes closed. The investment masses are sometimes ignorant of the fate that awaits them. Think of being a contrarian.
  • As Socrates wrote, “the life which is unexamined is not worth living.” Investors who don’t have a zest for knowledge are doomed to poor investment returns. If you invest without the ambition to garner as much information as possible, you will not likely succeed… “you’d just be one more/Person crying.”

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in

P.S. — Hat tip to subscriber “jesusishere” for bringing up the idea of this column to me yesterday!


Category: Investing, Music

Before the Beach Boys, There Was Jan & Dean

Spotify playlist Hit play to listen as you read   Brian Wilson gets all the respect and Jan Berry’s been forgotten and I’m gonna try to rectify that right now. “THE LITTLE OLD LADY (FROM PASADENA)” Because it’s the one you know. When I first heard this in the summer of ’64 I had no…Read More

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music, Weekend

iPhone MetroGnome Remix

  Source: Daily Dot   Free Download:  

Category: Music, Technology, Weekend

Why the Japanese still love music CDs

Compact discs account for 80% of all music sales in Japan, which experts attribute to bonus material and an aging population that grew up with packaged music.

Category: Music, Technology, Weekend

Silencers: A Primer

Click to listen to playlist on Spotify   The best band you’ve never heard. It matters what label you’re on, and whether you’re a priority. And being on RCA left the Silencers not a priority and with no career, as the label was in transition. But the only records I played more in the nineties…Read More

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music, Weekend

Jimmy Fallon: Brian Williams Raps

Jimmy Fallon’s crew put together a series of monster edits of NBC nightly news anchor Brian Williams, turning him into a rapper. The results were hilarious — see the mashup of raps after the jump — but it also resulted in Williams showing up on Fallon for an interview.

Here is the interview with

Bri Willi
Bri Will.I.ams
B Dubs

Rap Master B Videos after the jump

NBC Nightly News managing editor and anchor Brian Williams talks to Jimmy about life after the world discovered his rapping abilities.

Brian Williams Addresses His Rapping — Part 1

Brian Williams Addresses His Rapping — Part 2

Read More

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Humor, Music, Television, Weekend

Pharrell Williams Interview

In this “Sunday Morning” preview Grammy Award-winning musician and producer Pharrell Williams gives credit to his high school band teachers for helping him get to where he is today, and tells Anthony Mason that while growing up, his life was filled with special people. (CBS)

He is an interesting and humble guy:

“My story is the average story”

April 12, 2014

More interview videos and Get Happy after the jump

Read More

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music, Weekend

Crosby, Stills & Nash Primer

Click for Spotify playlist   SUITE: JUDY BLUE EYES, Crosby, Stills & Nash (1st Album) It wasn’t an immediate hit. “Marrakesh Express” got all the airplay. And being in excess of seven minutes long, radio was reluctant to play the track in its entirety, the days of free format radio were dying. So the initial…Read More

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music, Weekend

Dumb Ways to Die

Category: Humor, Music, Weekend

Michael Jackson “Beat It” Demo

Check out MJ rockin it old school: Click to play audio. Source: Harrattan Blog Here is what Rob Hoffman, a Sound Engineer who worked with Jackson early in his career, observes: One morning MJ came in with a new song he had written overnight. We called in a guitar player, and Michael sang every note…Read More

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music, Weekend