Have you ever wondered what it would be like to win a million dollars? Or even $500 million for that matter? When lottery jackpots offer such enormous prizes, we find ourselves in a ticket purchasing frenzy in efforts to become instant millionaires.
We rush to the nearest retail store to purchase tickets for the Powerball or to buy tickets for the Mega Millions, anything we can do to make guarantee our participation in the next draw. We begin fantasizing, prematurely, what we will do with our winnings. Buy a new house, travel the world, help our kids – all of this is within reach if we just manage to win the jackpot.
The rhythm of these lottery dreams has frequently been reflected in music. After all, songwriters and recording artists are lottery fans just like the rest of us. In their songs, some musicians express their desire to escape the challenges of living a simple life while others contemplate how to handle the luxuries of a lifestyle based on wealth. For many artists, however, winning the lottery does not necessarily refer to money at all, but rather to success in finding a suitable life partner in the so-called ‘lottery of love’.
No matter what their lyrics really mean, songwriters provide us with a soundtrack to accompany our fantasies of winning the lottery. Should we be humming when we purchase our tickets? Will we ever win a record jackpot (pun intended)? On that note, take a look at the top seven lottery-related songs in hopes that they foretell a day when our dreams will come true.
1. Harry Nilsson – The Lottery Song (1972)
This track from Nilsson’s ‘Son of Schmilsson’ album deals with the big-time dreams of small-time everyday men. The melody is simple and the lyrics somewhat bittersweet when they suggest you have to be lucky to be happy.
“You could do the laundry / I’ll come by on Monday
You give me the money / I will buy a ticket
On the local lottery / We could win the lottery
We could go to Vegas / And be very happy.”
2. Patti Smith – “Free Money” (1975)
In Patti Smith’s debut studio album “Horses” (1975), considered by critics to be one of the greatest and most influential albums in the history of the punk rock movement, the song “Free Money” was inspired by the singer’s childhood. ‘It’s really a song for my mom,” Smith told The Guardian in 2005. ‘She always dreamed about winning the lottery. But she never bought a lottery ticket! She would just imagine if she won, make lists of things she would do with the money – a house by the sea for us kids, then all kinds of charitable things.’
3. Camper Van Beethoven – When I Win the Lottery (1989)
In their album “Key Lime Pie”, American alternative rock band Camper Van Beethoven’s lead singer David Lowery states what he would do if he won the lottery, and some of it is quite charitable.
“When I win the lottery
Gonna buy all the girls on my block
A colour TV and a bottle of French perfume.
When I win the lottery
Gonna donate half my money to the city
So they have to name a street or a school or a park after me
When I win the lottery.”
4. Calloway – “I Wanna Be Rich” (1989)
Calloway, an R&B duo from Cincinnati, had short-term success with this expression of their desire to get rich, not only to beat back the bill collectors but also “for the love, peace, and happiness” that wealth implies. One of the ways to make their dream come true, Calloway sing, is to play the lottery.
“I want my cake, wanna eat it too
I want the stars and the silver moon
I spend my money on lotteries
My favourite numbers are 123.”
5. Brandy Clark – Pray to Jesus (2013)
“Times are tough and time is borrowed” in this track by the American country music singer-songwriter. One way of escaping the simple life, she sings, is by playing the lotto and of course, praying to Jesus that you will win.
“$200 million on the Powerball
Six little numbers that could change it all
So we pray to Jesus and play the lotto.”
6. Lydia Caesar – Lottery (2013)
On her debut album, recording artist Lydia Caesar says she thought the odds were against her but when she played her favourite numbers, she realized that she had won the jackpot. She’s not singing about money.
“I hit the jackpot, I’m done
Cashed my check, you’re the one
I thought the odds were against me in the love lottery!”
7. Marky Ramone & the Intruders – I Wanna Win the Lottery (2015)
This song dates back to 1999 but the animated video is new. Marky Ramone is an American musician best known for being the drummer of punk rock band the Ramones. The video features a rat, possibly symbolic because the singer says he once had a pet rat.
“I wanna win the lottery
Then you would be close to me
T. V. Ice cream everyday
And never have to work just play.”
Now that we’ve listened to these inspiring tracks, we can rush to purchase our lottery tickets. Winning the jackpot would certainly give us reason to sing!