You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire

Album: Songs For The Deaf (2002)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song, full title "You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire" but commonly referred to as "Millionaire," is either nonsensical or deeply profound, depending on where you stand. The title doesn't show up in the lyric, which is filled with phrases like "Gimme toro, gimme some more," and "Metal heavy, soft at the core."

    Queens Of The Stone Age mainman Josh Homme wrote it with Mario Lalli of the band Yawning Man. Homme hasn't elaborated on his lyrical intention, but we know the song was written in the desert during one of Homme's "Desert Sessions," where he would assemble a group of musicians, take them to Joshua Tree, and see what happens. So it's possible the words are some kind of fever dream, but they could be a commentary on the state of the music industry or a statement about living with passion.
  • The song first appeared in 1999 on Volume 5 of Josh Homme's Desert Sessions series, with Mario Lalli on vocals, Homme on guitar and bass, and Brant Bjork on drums. Homme and Bjork were previously in the band Kyuss.

    There were maybe a few thousand copies of the Desert Sessions album pressed, but Homme started playing the song live with his new band, Queens Of The Stone Age. When QOTSA made their third album, Songs For The Deaf (2002), they re-recorded the song, this time with their bass player Nick Oliveri singing lead. Oliveri, who was also in Kyuss, joined the group for their previous album, Rated R, and sang it during live performances.

    "I did that in a take and just belted it out," Oliveri told Songfacts. "I knew the song from doing it live so much, so I just tried to hone it and make it my own by singing it hard and the best I could do it."
  • This is the first song on Songs For The Deaf, but it's preceded by a strange 91-second soundscape that starts with a synthesized voice saying, "Uh? What?" followed by what sounds like a heartbeat and some bass pulses. This section was hidden and unlisted on the CD; to hear it, you had to start "Millionaire" (Track 1) and press rewind on the player, if it had that function. Hidden tracks like this were exposed in the digital era, so now it's listed as Track 0 and called "The Real Song For The Deaf." Nick Oliveri claims this part was made for deaf people who can sense the low frequencies.
  • The Songs For The Deaf album has a concept running through it of a road trip, as if you're scanning a radio dial between songs. After the hidden intro, "You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire" starts with the sound of a car starting, then the radio tuning past bits of commercials and song to a fictional station called KLON in Los Angeles, where a DJ delivers their positioner: "KLONE Radio, We play the songs that sound more like everyone else than anyone else."

    The DJ then introduces the song with this rap:

    "Hey, all right, it's Kip Kasper, KLONE Radio, LA's infinite repeat. How we feelin' out there? How's your drive-time commute? I need a saga. What's the saga? It's songs for the deaf. You can't even hear it!"

    Kip Kasper is played by Blag Dahlia of the band Dwarves, one of Josh Homme's many musical associates.
  • Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl played drums on this track. Grohl was the drummer in Nirvana and friends with Josh Homme, who arranged for him to play on it. Queens Of The Stone Age used a rotating cast of musicians, so Grohl could play on the album without committing to the band, although he did tour with them after it was released.

    The other drummer on the album was Gene Trautmann, who played on some Rated R tracks. He was gong to have a more prominent role on Songs For The Deaf before Grohl took the gig.

    Nick Oliveri told Songfacts that both Grohl and Trautmann are on "Millionaire."

    "There are two drummers on that – Dave and him," he said. "Gene was nailing stuff, but it's hard when Dave Grohl is standing there and he wants to rock on the record. It was a rough day. [Laughs] It was a terrible thing, man... and a great thing at the same time. But I don't think the record would be the same without these guys."
  • Nick Oliveri sang into a vintage "saltshaker" microphone (and Altec 633A), which gave his vocals an intersting distortion. "If you ride up on these things they really blow out really good," he told Songfacts. "The windscreens can't really take this stress."

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