The song (originally titled "Been and Gone and Done It") is sung from the viewpoint of a woman who, despite hard work, can barely keep her finances in surplus, and therefore desires a well-off man. ABBA perform parts of ‘Money, Money, Money’ live in the 1977 film ‘ABBA: The Movie’. In the popular musical, ‘Mamma Mia’, the song is sung by the character of Donna as she explains how hard she must work to keep the taverna in order and her dreams of a better life. In the 2008 film. Meryl Streep sings the song.
‘Money, Money, Money’ was the second worldwide hit from ‘Arrival’. The song became a number-one chart hit in Australia (ABBA's sixth consecutive chart-topper there), Belgium, France, West Germany, the Netherlands, Mexico and New Zealand, while reaching the top three in Austria, Great Britain, Ireland, Norway and Switzerland.
I am sure that ‘money’ has always been important in the lives of all people ever since the first monetary piece was coined. I am equally sure that as a society, we have grown more materially conscious year-on-year ever since the 1960s when ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ seemed an essential social ladder-climbing pursuit. There is no doubt that the pursuit of acquiring and amassing more and more money has become ‘the root of evil’. No longer does wealth of itself prove enough. Money has slept around so much and has multiplied so quickly, that almost anyone today who is fortunate enough to own a house in London is a millionaire, and only being in the ’Billionaire’s League’ places one at ‘Premier’ rating.
And when one acquires their first billion, the next step is to increase one’s level of power and status. This is first achieved by buying a knighthood, or owning a world-class premier football club, or becoming the main financial backer of a prominent political party. No amount of money is any longer enough without also having the power and status it can attract.
Any truly serious player today requires all three to impress.
It matters not whether one is a good or bad person, rich or poor, lowly or high born; all citizens seek one, two or all three of Satan’s Trinity. Even the good person who does good things derives status in the eyes of others for their public services. A committed and hard-working politician will naturally hope to be re-elected by their voting constituents. Saturday night alone watching television’s ‘X-Factor’ will show you the importance of how important just three minutes of fame can be, even in the lives of the lowly.
But, alas, those vast numbers who own their own house, hold down employment and manage to eat reasonably well, and have enough savings put away throughout the year to have a family holiday commensurate to their class status are sadly no more. Before the New Millennium, even the lowliest paid worker was once able to holiday in Scarborough or Blackpool or take a cheap airline flight to Spain, while the jet-set flew off to more expensive and exotic parts of the world.
Ever since 2007/2008, however. and the last global financial crash, the marked differences between the poor and the wealthy have grown out of all recognition and the fractures which had held together within the societal classes since the 1950s have broken down completely. First, they shattered socially, followed by monetarily. Recently, Great Britain has witnessed the political collapse with the ultimate betrayal of democracy when our MPs deliberately refused to vote in conjunction with their election pledges and to do their level best to deliver the referendum result and leave the European Union.
It is truthfully argued by some, that compared to hundreds of years ago, all people who live in this country of England have a higher living standard than the country has ever known. Nobody starves, not even those unfortunates who find themselves unable to get paid employment, or even those without a roof over their heads on a cold winter’s night and who erect their cardboard bed in shop doorways and down dark alleys on our streets! Unemployment Benefit, Social Security, Work Employment Rights, Housing Benefit and even the mushroomed growth of Food Banks and Charity Shops in our high streets ensures that this country is richer to all its populace more than any third world country!
And yet, nobody (except those of the most extreme wealth), any longer feels better off than their parents were. Over half of those who now leave school today may attend university and obtain their degrees in droves, but all they are guaranteed to come out with at the end of their three-year university experience will be the kind of learning they will never get the opportunity to use in the types of employment they are less than likely ever to obtain; along with a £50,000 university debt they are left saddled with.
The strong probability is that they will never own their own house whatever job they manage to acquire! Even their rented accommodation shall only be obtainable at rip-off rents without any real security of tenure. There is even talk of rationing the Health Services to providing access and treatment to only those who are natives to this country, and who are non-smokers, non-addicts, as slim as a bean pole, are able to walk and run ten kilometres within two hours and are no older than 67 years.
When I left school in the late 1950s, I could get a job the next morning, leave it at noon and walk across the street into another job in the afternoon! Whatever the wages were, they were always enough to provide money for rent, food to eat and clothes to wear. Cautiousness would also allow a family holiday in Blackpool or Scarborough for a week. In order to buy those extras like holidays, a new washer, your growing son’s first pair of long trousers, we all had to ‘work overtime’.
Getting married involved doing whatever was required! With the exception of the occasional unmarried pregnancy (where a wedding between the couldn’t-wait-courting-couple always followed within three weeks of announcing the imminent birth of their child-to-be), long engagements and years of overtime worked provided a ‘bottom drawer’ for the young couple. Such commitment towards the future also enabled one earning enough to put down sufficient deposit on one’s first property (typically, a one-up-and-one-down terraced that was lived in until the second baby arrived on the scene). Where overtime proved insufficient to obtain the savings required, one simply got a second job at nights or at weekends. I recall working in a mill 7.00 am to 5.00 pm, going to night school between 7.00 pm and 10.00 pm and then driving taxies until 2.00 am before retiring to my bed. I did this for three years before I got wed to provide me and my fiancée with a decent start to married life!
As the oldest of seven children in a working-class household, until I was 18 years old, my mother paid for her weekly groceries from my father’s (unearned) next week’s wages. Every pair of trousers or shoes that I or my siblings ever wore that weren’t second hand, were purchased on the clothing club that split the payments into weekly amounts (with interest). Just as it is today, the poor always paid more than the wealthy for the same items! Then, arrived that newest of concepts that were the bedrock for today’s habit of increasing debt that we knew as buying on the ‘never, never’ (so named as the purchaser never paid off the debt as the interest on the capital borrowed grew exponentially).
When I first set eyes on the television in the 1950s, a prominent journalist, satirist and socialist philosopher of the day frequently interviewed was a man called Malcolm Muggeridge. I recall as a teenager once hearing him espouse the view that the only way to prevent climate destruction in the future was, if mankind were to lower its consumerism and accept a lower standard of living. He argued that only a reduction in mankind’s material consumption would make the globe a safer and juster place to live. The words and wisdom of this grey-haired man in his mid-50s proved to be seventy years before his time.
He even predicted that the time would one day arrive, if the population continued to increase at the same level as it was then increasing, when only the upper and higher-middle class wife and mother would be able to afford the luxury of remaining at home with their children when they were young instead of having to go out to work to house feed and clothe them. This prediction was made by Malcolm Muggeridge when the wife of every working-class man in the country was frowned upon if she worked outside the home instead of watching over her own children during the day. Muggeridge, who had acted as both soldier and spy for the British Government during the ‘Second World War’ converted from Communism to Christianity after the war. It was he who helped bring the late Mother Teresa to popular attention in the West. He was also a critic of the sexual revolution and of drug use.
I confess that for a time during my first marriage, I too became caught up in the spiral of materialism; of wanting to keep up with the Joneses and always equating a certain amount of money with ‘peace of mind and family security’. I equated security and increased comfort and happiness with having sufficient monies to live the lifestyle I wanted for myself and my family.
It took the biggest fall in my own personal circumstances to help me stand up straight again! It took a marriage breakup along with an unwanted separation and divorce to give me a proper perspective on life. It took all the hurt, the heartache, the bitterness and sheer feelings of loss when I didn’t have access to my two children for two years, to understand that true security comes from self and lasting shelter that protects the body is of little use if it destroys one’s dreams and doesn’t replenish one’s bucket of hope and preserve the spirit also.
So, look not for comfort, happiness, shelter and security in ‘money, money, money’ or you will be found wanting and you will never find that which you truly deserve as a human being and a creature of nature and God.
Love and peace Bill xxx