As it happens, we have a lot of time at work. Time to talk of everything and nothing. And time to make most of it relate to music. When discussions at the beginning of the week turned to the demise of the penny, naturally, thoughts turned to idioms and songs that could provide tribute to the little copper coin that was going to leave our lives.
Think of the penny like an old band. Past its prime, no longer seemingly useful and prepared to die a slow and, at times, annoyingly painful death as it makes its way down the road of obscurity. You have some good memories of it, but on a day-to-day basis, it is just not providing any value.
Or so it seems.
However, let us take a moment to honour the penny and consider how removing it from our lives actually may have a lasting impact. This is where the questions began. (And this is where I point out the irony of a Steel Man discussing the demise of a copper coin and I could make a Metal joke here, but, really, I’m on afternoon shift and I’ve not yet consumed enough coffee to make the joke as hilarious as it could be.. )
Allow me an indulgent moment to pose exactly how the disappearance of the penny will inevitably affect our lives. For about a week.
Best question asked: What will become of the penny loafer? I suppose we could call them “Dimebag Dawdlers”. However, that immediately makes me think of Dimebag Darrell (Pantera guitarist that was assassinated by a fan upset at the rumour of Pantera’s impending breakup.. true story…). So, goodbye Penny Loafer. An entire generation of preppy hipster dressers (who I’m certain only dress “preppy” as an ironic nod of the head to their prep-school leanings) will have to go without the addition of a penny to their tasseled tootsies.
I suppose no longer will bad pennies turn up. Because it seems they always did. What will happen to these “bad pennies”? Conversely, those deemed a “pretty penny” will likely be stuck in the same circle of hell as the bad ones; where they will likely spend eternity finding other pennies, picking them up and never finding the good luck claimed they would inevitably find. It is very sad to realize that those of us walking around won’t stoop down to pick up that one little lucky penny in the hopes that our fates will be transformed.
And since penny candy hasn’t been around in decades and I’ve completely dated myself talking of it, we are just going to pretend that buying little brown bags filled with sugary goodness was something someone once read in a book or saw in a movie. Move along. I’m not that old.
And what will the penny pinchers in life pinch now? Dimes and nickles seem in direct contrast to the spirit of being a “penny pincher”. I imagine that those cheap enough to pinch a pretty penny will have to give up their stingy natures.
Oh, wait. This is about music.
You wouldn’t think that the penny would have shown up in many songs over the years, aside from the obvious choices (which are indeed included in the list below). It was an innocuous little coin, it seems. But the references are there and we took the time to find them. And thus became the Top 10 Penny Tribute Songs.
#10: Hot in Herre – Jenny Owen Youngs
Okay, I know I’m starting out a list that doesn’t really include the word “Penny” in the title. Bear with me. It’s a 50 Cent cover done beautifully and one of my all-time favourite cover songs. Get it? 50 Cent. Fine. A stretch at best, but it’s a damn good song.
#9: Coin in the Pocket – Joni Mitchell
It’s not really a song, but rather what I would call a bridge between songs. A preamble. And it’s Joni Mitchell, so regardless of relevance or the fact that it’s not really a song, it is great.
#8: A Bad Penny – Cat Stevens
1974. Cat Stevens. A fool and a train. Classic.
#7: Penny Sparkle – Blonde Redhead
From their last studio album (2010) of the same name. An excellent tribute to Penny.
#6: Pretty Penny – Stone Temple Pilots
A favourite from STP. Sing along.
#5: Pennyroyal Tea – Nirvana
You all know my Grunge leanings. That this was included is hardly a surprise.
#4: Pennies from Heaven – Billie Holliday
There are two songs that automatically had to be included in the list. Songs that have been covered more times than I care to even Wikipedia. Forgive the predictability.
Although, be surprised at my inclusion of Christopher Walken cover…. oh, yes. I did. Best thing I’ve watched today:
#3: Penny Lane – The Beatles
Thoughts of classic Beatles tunes, the movie Almost Famous and my hunt for a great cover of this obvious choice. I still like Bowie’s version:
#2: 10 Cent Pistol – Black Keys
I know it is 10 times more than a penny. But it is 10 times more great as a song. (oh, that was cheese….)
#1: Dollars & Cents – Radiohead
For Pete – a Radiohead number one choice.
Honourable Mention: Anything by Pennywise.
Of course, to choose their song “Fuck Authority” is my way of encouraging all of you to collect your pennies and find some use for them.
Did you know that you can use a penny instead of a screwdriver (no, don’t add it to your vodka and OJ…)? Ever thought of giving someone money owed entirely in pennies? The currency act states that no one is obligated to accept more than 25 pennies as payment. Ha! So there Kramer.
Still, I believe we should continue to offer a penny for someone’s thoughts. Because, honestly, there are some thoughts roaming around out there that aren’t worth rounding up to a nickel.
(Side note – can we do away with the nickel next? I’m thinking the obliteration of Nickelback would be a good place to start…)
Adieu Little Penny.
p.s. Much gratitude, as always, to a Steel Man for the idea and collaboration. Another great inclusion.