Top 14 songs for the college loan mountain Congress just heaped on you.

Jillian Seaton and I recount our favourite money and debt songs while we each mourn the lives of plenty we might have had, if only we didn’t have a mountain of debt to pay.

So. Congress has done its level best to ruin your holiday. Basically: it has done nothing, and that’s all you need from Congress, these days. This time, nothing has turned into a doubling of the interest rate on your student loan.

While the media squawks on about the effect student loan interest rates will have on new students, very little attention is being paid to the fact that, long after you graduate, you’ll still be paying off your student loans.

Loooooong after.

In fact, some estimates say as much as a billion dollars in unpaid student debt exists in this country, with about 37 million borrowers.

So kick back and relax. Get ready to spend the rest of your days paying off those loans. And while you’re doing that, Jillian and I have prepared a Spotify set list to help inspire, enrage, sympathize and in some cases, enable you through it all. Enjoy!

14. Pink Floyd Money

Tom – For those of us old enough to have owned a Walkman (dear god, did I just write that?), no such list would be complete without Pink Floyd’s 7/8 time classic, Money. From the first sampled ::ca-ching:: of a cash register to the driving insistence of the tell-tale funky, cocksure bass line, there is something about this song that tells you right away that you’ll now be marching to the beat of the cash. Whether you’re leading that parade or getting dragged along in the rear doesn’t matter. You will march:

13. Plain White T’s – Happy Someday

Tom – “I’ll be happy someday.”

Relax dude. No, you won’t. Hope you find your life enriched by that advanced degree in Medieval dance music. Because Great Lakes Higher Education would like a word with you about your two months past due balance.

12. Fountains of Wayne – Strapped for Cash

Tom –So, your buddy just got out of prison and needs you to pay back that loan? Oh, if only this wasn’t so familiar a scenario to me. And if you’re just graduating from college, brace yourself! You, too, will be “robbing Peter to pay Paul” like the protagonist in this Supertramp-inspired song.

11. Fiddler on the Roof – If I Were a Rich Man

Tom – Fair question:

“So what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?”

Topol starts us out straight away with a plaintif question for his god. It’s a simple question, but the rest of the song, in which he fantasizes  about his awesome rich existence, never mentions “I wouldn’t have to go a week without my anti-anxiety medication so that I can afford to pay the loans that are giving me anxiety.”

10. Donna Summer – She Works Hard for the Money

Tom –So hard for it, honey. So seriously? How ’bout a little debt relief for the waitress with a Masters in chemistry? This is not someone whose service you want if you’re a member of the House of Representatives and have a weak constitution for exotic brews of restaurant cleansers.

Actually, I just love this song for the first 12 seconds of extra-synthy, extra-dramatic intro. For a second, I couldn’t tell if this was a Donna Summer song or the intro to an ’80’s PBS show about computers…

9. Cyndi Lauper – Money Changes Everything

Jillian – Yes, Cyndi, it sure does. This little 80s gem pays homage to a wonderful mindset many of us Americans still share, and that’s “buy now, pay later”. Whether it’s shacking up with the unemployed dude down the street or signing on the dotted line for an exorbitant amount of student loans at the tender age of 18, chances are, the money portions of these decisions will be making a much larger impact on you later down the road, just as Cyndi warns.

8. James Brown – Give it Up or Turn it Loose

Tom – For no apparent reason other than fuck yeah, James Brown:

7. The Beatles – Can’t Buy Me Love

Tom – No, money cannot buy you love. Which is nice, because you won’t have any, regardless.

Do your best to embrace this carefree, non-materialistic attitude early, because your iPad requires a wireless contract. Otherwise, it’s just one more paperweight in your broke-ass studio apartment.

6. Notorious B.I.G – Mo Money, Mo Problems

Jillian – Oh, Biggie. I admit it, when this song made its debut, all I could think was “Poor rich rapper, rolling in money, cars, and women. Yes, those certainly are problems – jerk.” These days, though, I think Biggie may have been on to something; however, if it were up to me, I would have called the song “Mo Money, Mo Debt” or “Mo Money, Mo Taxes”, but those just don’t quite have the same ring, do they?

5. They Might Be Giants – Minimum Wage

Tom – Embrace it. Minimum wage means minimum loan payments. Remember when you were encouraged to go to college so you could earn more money? Now because of college, maybe it feels like, for a little while at least, it might be best to avoid your high-income future.

4. Hoyt Axton – Boney Fingers

Jillian –I grew up with this song on my parents’ turntable and the upbeat tune will definitely fool you. This song is chock full of all the little things that go wrong and make adult-life terrible, always circling back to the mantra,

“Work your fingers to the bone, and what do you get? Boney fingers!”

It’s not that we don’t work and earn a paycheck, we just don’t see much, if any of it. And hey, if you’re on that “Income Based Repayment” system for federal student loans, don’t worry! If you earn a raise, you get to pay more in student loans each month! At least Hoyt leaves us with hope, adding in “maybe things will get a little better in the morning.” We’ll see, Hoyt. We’ll see.

3. Steely Dan – Black Friday

Tom – Lest we forget, your local banker is the one guy not upset by raised interest rates. The same raised interest rates that will bring you to sobbing, Ramen noodle slurping destitution will be purchasing him a new set of golf clubs and a hooker.

Some of those bankers will know enough to get out right before the bubble bursts, just like on the infamous Black Friday. Donald Fagan recounts:

When Black Friday comes, I’m gonna collect everything thing I’m owed. And before my friends find out, I’ll be on the road.

2. Stevie Wonder – Money (That’s What I Want)

Jillian – So do the loan collectors and your government. See, we’re not really all that different! At least Stevie sympathizes with us. Maybe we can’t all follow in the footsteps of Stevie Wonder, but if you’re looking for a tune to snap you out of the overwhelming debt blues, this one will at least have you singing and dancing around your kitchen, and that’s a step in the right direction.

1. Tennesee Ernie Ford – Sixteen Tons

Tom –I remember laughing at this song when I was a wee lad. Once I started piling up a heap of debt, I wasn’t laughing anymore. But if you’ve gotta cry over your mountain of debt that you cannot make a hole in, do it with the best, Tennessee Ernie Ford.

By Jillian Seaton

Jillian is a recovering sorority girl/cheerleader and an aspiring trophy wife/crazy cat lady who somehow found herself in the magical land of auto dealership marketing and family portraits. Her true passions in life are writing, whiskey, music (especially good ol' rock 'n roll), and cheese. Jillian's life goals include saving the world from cancer and becoming the best astronaut ever.