Sometimes readers email me to say that it can’t be easy coming up with original content every week…but it would be nice if I could at least try.
It’s true that The Escape Artist is not above spreading The Butter of Creativity over The Toast of Repetition with a follow up post or two.
So The Escape Artist is back once again in the guise of a music critic from the NME…armed with earnest prose, tortuous metaphors and psycho-babble to review more classic songs about financial independence.
And if you didn’t then I’m sorry.
Great Escape (Mike Dignam)
This catchy little ditty from 2013 was offered up by The Fire Starter. This is a great song for anyone who has accumulated enough and just needs a little motivational push past their fear to jump off the cliff.
Mike Dignam reminds us that the clock is ticking and it would be great to travel the world whilst we are still young enough to fully experience it. He also recognises the power of habit and the advantage of getting out before we become totally institutionalised.
All I wanna do (Sheryl Crow)
If you are ever at work wishing you were in the pub (or indeed anywhere else) how about this one from Sheryl Crow.
Sheryl (to her friends) reminds us that whilst most of the world is at work, there are always some people having fun.
Why shouldn’t that be us?
Freedom 90 (George Michael)
In Freedom, George Michael publicly illustrates the advantage of having Fuck You Money. Freedom tells Michael’s side of the story of why he left Sony, the record label that had helped propel him to success. Michael reflects on the fame and financial benefits that he got in his early 20s, but that he now wants something different from life.
Michael tells his story with due respect to Sony. He is not bitter towards his former employer, he just wants the freedom to do the work he loves.
Back on the Chain Gang (Pretenders)
The Pretenders were drawing an analogy between consumerism and convicts working in The Prison Camp….before The Escape Artist was even out of school! This classic from 1982 highlights the downsides of commuting, indentured servitude and the mass media.
The Escape Artist is all in favour of upper body exercise, hard work, manual labour and being outdoors. It’s just that quality time with a sledgehammer should be voluntary exercise rather than compulsory work in The Prison Camp to service our mortgages and credit card debt.
The Boss (James Brown)
This song is a reminder that its possible to get too wrapped up in accumulating money or status and that getting to the top in any sphere of life requires hard work and sacrifice. Ask any sports star, lawyer or CEO. Even if we have the ability, we still have to decide whether we are prepared to pay the price needed to become a high earner.
This is forgotten in earnest debates about income inequality where people sometimes overlook the possibility (I put it no stronger than that) that median earners might be getting the better deal. At least once income tax plus national insurance at 47% for high earners, health, happiness and free time are taken into account.
As the Godfather of Soul reminds us, you pay a cost to be The Boss.
Superstition (Stevie Wonder)
We humans are hard wired to make mental short cuts and avoid effortful thinking where possible. This leads us to believe in superstitions that we pick up from the other monkeys in the human tribe.
Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel prize for discovering and illustrating many of the quirks and imperfections of human thinking (see book here).
Kahneman shows that we have 2 decision making systems. 1) an ancient hardwired reptile brain for dealing instinctively with threats and opportunities…this is how we feel fear and greed. 2) a more recently evolved human capacity for logical thought. To get to FI, we need to use this second system a bit more.
Bullet in the Head (Rage against The Machine)
Advertising is not some ineffective background noise that we screen out, its created by smart people that understand and target our weak spots. So respect your enemy and remove it from your life.
Rage Against The Machine highlight with energy and some style the benefits of thinking for ourselves and living intentionally.
This song won’t be to everyone’s taste and does include some swearing. But personally I think the swearing adds colour and emphasis to a positive message.
Busy Earning (Jungle)
Keith just didn’t ever seem to have time to fire his financial adviser. He wonders how anyone could afford to retire early. He always ends up paying a price premium for convenience and speed. Money is leaking out of Keith’s life like blood spurting from an arterial wound and he has no idea how much is enough.
Keith is busy. Being busy is a badge of pride at the office. It’s reassuring for Keith to feel that he is in demand. And being busy is a great distraction from thinking about what we really want in life.
In short, Keith is busy earning. But what’s the point if you’re too busy earning to get rich or have fun?
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
I’m an environmentalist and would like to see all shopping malls, drive-thrus and theme parks torn down and returned to nature.
Shopping as a leisure activity is stupid. With home delivery, there is no need for most shops to exist.
I’m sorry to have to report that the whole construction of a society based on cars, convenience, passive entertainment and sedentary lifestyles has been a clusterfuck. Joni Mitchell absolutely nails it in the lyrics:
They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum and charged the people a dollar and a half just to see them…they paved paradise, put up a parking lot