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"Money (That's What I Want)" is a 1959 hit single by Barrett Strong for the Tamla label, distributed nationally on Anna Records. The song was written by Tamla founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford, and became the first hit record for Gordy's Motown enterprise. It went on to be covered by many artists including The Beatles, with covers by The Flying LizardsThe Sonics and The Kingsmen reaching high chart positions.


Overview[edit]Edit

Anna Records was operated by Gwen Gordy, Anna Gordy and Billy 'Roquel' Davis. Gwen and Anna's brother Berry Gordy had just established his Tamla label (soon Motown would follow), and licensed the song to the Anna label in 1960, which was distributed nationwide by Chicago-based Chess Records in order to meet demand; the Tamla record was a resounding success in the Midwest. The song features Strong curtly demanding that money is what he needs, more than anything else. The single became Motown's first hit in June 1960, making it to #2 on the US R&B chart and #23 on the US pop chart. The song was listed as #288 on Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

Cover versions[edit]Edit

The song has been covered by myriad artists, with several of them reaching significant positions in a variety of charts. For example, The Kingsmen reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Bern Elliott and the Fenmen reached #14 on the UK singles chart. The best known cover versions were performed by The Beatles and by The Flying Lizards, whose version peaked at number twenty-two on the dance charts.

The Beatles' version[edit]Edit

"Money (That's What I Want)"
Song by The Beatles from the album With the Beatles
Released November 22, 1963
Recorded July 18, 1963
Genre Beat
Length 2:47
Label Parlophone
Producer George Martin
With the Beatles track listing
Music sample
"Money (That's What I Want)"   0:00 

The Beatles recorded "Money (That's What I Want)" in seven takes on July 18, 1963 with their usual lineup. A series of piano overdubs was later added by producer George Martin. The song was released in November 1963 as the final track on their second United Kingdom albumWith the Beatles.

According to George Harrison, the group discovered Strong's version in Brian Epstein's NEMS record store (though not a hit in the UK, it had been issued on London Records in 1960). They had previously performed it during their audition at Decca Records on January 1, 1962. They also recorded it six times for BBC radio. A live version, taped at a concert date in Stockholm,Sweden in October 1963, was included on Anthology 1.

Their version features in the Only Fools and Horses episode "Mother Nature's Son."

The song became a staple for other British Invasion bands, being released by The Searchers in August 1963, Freddie and the Dreamers also in 1963 and on The Rolling Stones' first U.K. EP in January, 1964.

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