Reces­sion Ses­sions: Music for the Great Reces­sion

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Reces­sion Ses­sions is an album of eco­nom­ics-themed songs ded­i­cated to the Great Reces­sion. It’s pio­neer­ing the genre of “finan­cial folk”, and rais­ing money for the Somerville Home­less Coali­tion, a home­less­ness activism group in Mass­a­chu­setts.

After all the seri­ous­ness on this blog, I’m glad to have some artis­tic com­men­tary on the Great Reces­sion. Often our tribal mem­o­ries of events like this are stored in music rather than analysis–remember “Hey Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?”:

They used to tell me I was build­ing a dream 
And so I fol­lowed the mob 
When there was earth to plow or guns to bear 
I was always there right on the job 

They used to tell me I was build­ing a dream 
With peace and glory ahead 
Why should I be stand­ing in line 
Just wait­ing for bread? 

Once I built a rail­road, I made it run 
Made it race against time 
Once I built a rail­road, now it’s done 
Brother, can you spare a dime?

Or my per­sonal favourite, “Six­teen Tons”:

Some peo­ple say a man is made out of mud
A poor man’s made out of mus­cle and blood
Mus­cle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong

You load six­teen tons what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the com­pany store

I can’t say whether Reces­sion Ses­sions will burn into the con­scious­ness as deeply as those clas­sics, but it’s the first music for our times that has been brought to my atten­tion. The trailer below explains where the idea came from, and gives a sam­ple of some of the music. If you’d like to “try before you buy”, 6 of the 16 songs on the album are avail­able for stream­ing.

About Steve Keen

I am Professor of Economics and Head of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University London, and a long time critic of conventional economic thought. As well as attacking mainstream thought in Debunking Economics, I am also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. The key issue I am tackling here is the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally, and our very low rate of inflation.
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