Envy is the Color of Money

Sure, I envy rich people. Most of us do, if we’re honest. But usually I don’t begrudge them their wealth. I can admire their accomplishments, aspire to be like them, or just enjoy the fact that if it weren’t for rich people giving parties & hiring bands, most musicians I know would be even more under-employed. (What’s the difference between a musician and a savings bond? The savings bond eventually matures and makes money. Cue rim-shot.)

Of course, there have always been those hideous examples of gross over-consumption or bad behavior that can give wealth a bad rap. You know, the CEOs with gold-plated toilet seats in their private bathrooms, the jewel-encrusted socialite who owes her maid back pay, or the wealthy congresspeople who vote to pay themselves hundreds of thousands in farm subsidies.

Other rich people can be counted on to put them in their place with a throaty, “How vulgar,” like Cyd Charisse’s character’s reaction to seeing a talking picture at a party in Singing In The Rain. I once played at a very expensive country club where one of the drunken members was trying to make suggestive remarks to me, at least as far as one could understand through his slurring. I was trying to put him off politely, not wanting to be rude to a client, but a lovely silver-haired dowager heard him and told him in no uncertain terms to do something anatomically impossible to himself. That’s the kind of rich person I want to be!

These days, of course, income inequality is all the rage, probably because income inequality is at levels not seen since the Gilded Age. Naturally, one might expect the very richest people to feel a bit under siege, but they don’t help themselves when they make public comments about unemployment insurance just encouraging people to be lazy, or feeling just like Jews in Nazi Germany. Note of advice to Tom Perkins: unless you’re Jewish and have relatives who are Holocaust survivors, that is not a very good idea. Nor is it smart to defend your remarks while bragging about a $380,000 watch that is worth a 6-pack of Rolexes.

But I’m not jealous of Tom Perkins; in fact, I’m grateful to him for inspiring my next song (which is my way of saying to him what that kind dowager said to the boor who was bothering me.)

Leave a Reply