I grew up at a perfect time to be a teenager. I was 14 in February 1964, just when the British Invasion came to America, heralded by the arrival of the “Fab Four” known as the Beatles. It was their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. I don’t think there’s a teenager who saw that show who doesn’t remember that night and the exciting changes that occurred across the nation as a result. Seventy million people tuned in to see John, Paul, George, and Ringo, and from that day to this one, music was never the same.
During my teen years, the Beatles influenced everything from fashion to politics and from culture to music trends. Some 50+ years later, you can still feel their influences. Beatlemania was unlike anything before, and I doubt it will be like anything in the future.
It occurred to me when reviewing a list of Beatles songs (there are over 200 original recordings), that many of their song titles can be interpreted as encrypted messages about financial fitness and personal development. I may be taking some liberties here (alright, a LOT of liberties), but I looked through the many titles and came up with the top 12 songs that I have
twisted into interpreted as money-matter themes. I admit it’s a bit of a stretch, but I wouldn’t put it past them if there were actually hidden money messages for us all!
1. All You Need Is Love (1969)
Oh what a great life this would be if all we really needed in life was love! The truth is that for fulfillment, happiness, and satisfaction, we do need love and more. While love is very important, having the ability to feed and clothe yourself with a roof over your head is essential, and it’s what all of us work for every day. The Beatles’ lyrics say, “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done,” and I believe that. It just means proper planning and dedication to develop good work habits and being really motivated to succeed. Know what’s important to you and deliver on those values. Sort of taking your dream and making it become a reality, just like the four lads from Liverpool did back in the day.
2. I’m A Loser (1964)
How many of us have felt like a loser at some point in our lives? Maybe we lose our job, make a bad investment, or suffer a breakup in our relationship. Then we mope around, pitying ourselves for our misfortune. I think the message here is that luck and misfortune have very little to do with long-term success. The song may talk about losing something important, but the hidden message I take from it is that we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start again. If we are determined to succeed and make a solid plan to achieve our goals, being a loser won’t be our final result. The path to success isn’t always a straight line.
3. You Never Give Me Your Money (1969)
This one seems to be just plain obvious: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” It was originally said by Ben Franklin, but Lennon and McCartney repeated that message in this song. Borrowing should only be done with lots of thought, but we live in a time when borrowing on credit has become so easy and thoughtless that you can run up insurmountable debt almost overnight. I recently wrote about being a misguided lender to family and friends. If you lend, it better be in writing with terms of reimbursement. Otherwise, just call it a gift and be the nice guy, if you can actually afford that. I give a lot, but I rarely advise or participate in lending to friends and family. Bad experiences loom on the horizon far too often with those scenarios.
4. Drive My Car (1964)
Paul wrote this as a warning, I’m sure! Never lend your car to anyone. There are just too many bad things that can happen like accidents, tickets, and in some cases you just may never see it again. I have a decent car, nothing fancy, but I worked hard to get it and I take care of it. Lending my car to anyone would be so rare, I almost can’t think of trusting someone to return it in the condition I’d expect. It’s my responsibility, since I own the property, if something happens. I learned that from watching Judge Judy, so don’t ask me to lend you my car! Now, if you’d like to chauffeur me around in your car, well that is a horse of a slightly different color.
5. Can’t Buy Me Love (1964)
Money can buy a lot of things, it’s very true. But love just isn’t one of them. If for some reason you depend on your money for people to like or love you, or just to fit in, you’re bound to be very disappointed. Money is a means to an end. Your family uses any money you earn and share for their comfort, but it’s not the reason they love you. Mother Teresa and Gandhi were both loved by many people but were not financially well off. Their wealth came from inside their hearts, and my instincts tell me that hard work, great principles, dedication, and generosity paid them more than any jackpot or lottery ever could. Despite pain at times, they certainly knew that love wasn’t coming from any money they kept for themselves, but rather from sharing their inner wealth and goodness with everyone.
6. Help! (1965)
There is no sign of weakness when we ask for help. No one really succeeds completely on their own. The most successful people in the world need a team to help support them to get where they want and need to go. This could include an accountability partner to help you save money, a counselor to help you become debt-free, an advisor to help you invest, or simply a friend to cheer you on your way. Most highly successful people learn from mentors they meet along the way. Mentors (really successful people) love to share with a protégé and if you can connect on a level that gains you their trust and confidence, asking for help won’t even be necessary. It will come to you just because you deserve it.
7. Taxman (1966)
No one likes the taxman. No one. But the reality is that we all must pay him his due. The best thing you can do is to learn about the tax laws and pay no more than your fair share. I’m not going to debate whether the laws are actually fair, and this song certainly sounds like a warning to all with lines like “if you drive a car, I’ll tax the street; if you try to walk, I’ll tax your feet.” The best thing you can do is to know the law (or seek out someone who does) and try not to make the taxman angry!
8. You Can’t Do That (1964)
This song title says to me: there are right ways and wrong ways to do things, and you know when you’re doing it the right way. Be creative and try new things, even if people say it can’t be done. Sometimes that leads to great success. But doing it in ways that may be illegal or immoral just to make money…well, that’s the stuff that Al Capone was made of. I’d like to be famous, but infamous? Not so much. I learned a long time ago that I can’t lie to myself and I won’t. Try to do things in ways that show your true character, abilities, and sense of fair play.
9. Money (That’s What I Want!) (1963)
Alright, this one was recorded by the Beatles, but not written by them (it was the great one, Smokey Robinson who did the honors here). In any event, the song is all about the craving for money. It’s a bad thing to place all of your wants, needs, and desires in nothing but money, and the Beatles cried that it’s all they really want. The reality is that the best things in life are free, like respect, love, success, meaning, fulfillment, and gratitude. I’ve always believed that if you try hard and do the right things in life, money will come along for the ride. And even if great wealth doesn’t, your happiness and satisfaction levels will still be through the roof despite the fact that you are not the wealthiest guy on the block.
10. I Should Have Known Better (1964)
There have been so many times I have made money decisions in my life that were just plain stupid, that I have said that phrase to myself uncountable times. Youth doesn’t always serve you well, and I usually learn best about things after a big mistake! But sometimes that’s what it takes to learn. Rather than beating ourselves up for what we did wrong, we should take some time to think about how we could have handled things differently so we don’t make the same mistakes twice.
11. When I’m 64 (1967)
Okay, I’m stealing a few years here (it’s really 66 or 67 unless you’re shooting for early retirement), but for me, this song is about retirement. What shape will you be in when you retire? What will your health be like? Will you still be able to feed yourself and will you be able to keep up with the grandkids (Vera, Chuck, and Dave, of course!)? This song reminds us to think about all the things that lead up to retirement even though you may still be young…after all, Paul McCartney was only 16 when he wrote this ditty! You must be diligent about your preparation if you want to be a happy, comfortable camper when you’re 64 (or 66 or 67).
And finally… 12. Baby You’re A Rich Man (1967)
This song tells me that I’m rich, no matter what money I have in hand. I can have lots of money, or I can have none at all, but I’m still a beautiful person (and very modest, too!). So how does that feel? It feels great. Beautiful people are happy and happiness makes you rich is the message here. I’m betting that those who lead the happiest lives hae all the satisfaction and pleasures life can bring them. Money may be on their list and it probably is. But I’m certain that it’s not number one and it doesn’t consume their every thought. That’s the lesson I have learned despite writing about money each week. I write to share my experiences and to help others, and that makes me feel very rich.
I hope you had fun with this sneaky lesson on Beatles and money matters…I certainly did! Have you found any money messages among your favorite songs? How have they helped you with your finances or personal development?