by Tony Noland
I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad,
Buy all the things I never had
I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine
Smiling next to Oprah and the Queen
Dennis turned the radio off. "Sean," he said, "if I hear that song one more time I'm going to put a bullet in your brain."
"Don't be an ass."
"I'm just giving you fair warning."
Sean lowered his magazine. "And how am I responsible for what they play on the radio?"
"You picked the station."
"So pick a different station. Just not that goddamn classic rock oldies stuff."
"And what's wrong with classic rock?"
"Oh for Lord's sake, Dennis, you get upset at hearing a pop tune for the third time. What do they play on those classic rock stations but the same damned songs over and over? Their whole playlist is about a hundred songs in daily rotation. You've heard every one of them at least a thousand times."
"And every one is a fantastic song that has stood the test of time. That's why they are classics. It's not like this pop crap, here today and gone tomorrow, bands you've never heard of playing shitty music that is only worth hearing once anyway."
"So you think I wanna be a billionaire is a shitty song?"
"I think it has no redeeming social value."
Sean turned in his seat to face Dennis. "That is the most pompous, fatuous, pseudo-intellectual thing I have ever heard you say."
"Well, I'm sorry you're disturbed by the truth when faced with it."
"And I've heard you talk out of your ass more than any man should have to stand, too, so that's really saying something, Dennis. What the hell does that mean, 'redeeming social value'? Did you hear that phrase on one of your TV talk shows and decide to try it out for yourself?"
"It means, did you even listen to the lyrics of that song? Really listen? Do you even understand what the song is saying?"
"Yeah, he's says he wants to be a billionaire so freaking bad. Unless there's some deep subtext that I'm missing, I'd interpret that to mean that he wants to be a billionaire. It seems pretty straightforward, Dennis."
"No, it's not straightforward. He says he wants to be a billionaire and have everything that goes with it, but in the whole song, he never even says word one about how he's going to get the money. Shit, I want to be a billionaire, too, but I'm working for my money. This guy? He's just sittin' on his ass doin' nothing but saying, 'I want, I want, I want'. What kind of message does that send? Kids today, they listen to that song and they think that all you have to do in life is just want and somebody's gonna give it to you. What does that do to people's work ethics?"
"For Christ's sake, Dennis..."
"I'll tell you what it does, it screws 'em up! All this pop crap, you listen to this for an hour and your brain turns to mush. You start to think the world owes you a living, that whatever you want - money, success, women, happiness, whatever - that whatever you want, the world is just gonna leave at your doorstep tied up in a ribbon, like it was a basket of fruit. You got a whole generation that's gettin' more screwed up every day, and it's because their music convinces them that it's OK to just sit around and do nothing to better themselves, to just want to be a billionaire but not get off their ass, to be caught in a bad romance and not dump the guy, to cling to 'I just haven't met you yet' instead of having a realistic understanding of relationships. Maybe you don't care about what music teaches young people, but I do!"
"And when you were a kid, Dennis, I suppose you wanted to go live in an octopus' garden, right? You wanted to give her every inch of your love, you wanted to come sail away?"
"Screw you, Sean, you are deliberately not understanding me."
"Or did you wish that you had Jesse's girl? Or maybe you just wanted to come on Eileen?"
"This conversation is over."
"Of course it's over, because you're being ridiculous. Pop music is supposed to be new and different, its very nature is to offer the same old universal themes in new ways. Love, sex, money, heartbreak, ambition, cars, whatever - of course there's nothing new in those desires because people are people. The point you aren't getting is that you listen to pop music to be exposed to the unfamiliar, to a new twist on an old story. Because it's new, it makes you think about the music, the lyrics, not just sit back and have it on as background noise to be ignored. Dennis, we've got hours yet before the job; I'm not gonna sit here with the radio off and listen to you breath just because you're an old fart who gets a rash at music you haven't already heard ten thousand times." Sean reached over and pushed the button.
I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad,
Buy all the things I never had...
He picked up his magazine. Dennis moved his right hand up to his shoulder holster, unstrapped it and rested his palm on the butt of his Glock.
Sean rolled his eyes and changed the station.
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