Do the Wall Street shuffle
Hear the money rustle
Watch the greenbacks tumble
Feel the sterling crumble
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Charlie Chaplin stands on Douglas Fairbanks' shoulders during a rally at Wall Street in 1918
Picture, if you will, a small, insignificant English band, who responded to the 2008 United States recession and stock market meltdown with a satirical song which poked fun at the greedy barons of the business world with wry wit. Except the song wasn't made in 2008, nor was it made in 2009. It was made in 1974, when it became a top ten hit in the United Kingdom, perhaps after this band had received an important market tip... from the Twilight Zone. (doooooooo do do do do do!)
Wall Street is home to stock and other exchanges including NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, NYMEX, and NYBOT. Contrary to what some people think, it's not a metaphor, but a real street; it runs from Broadway to South Street along the East River in Manhattan, New York, New York. The area is an imposing neighborhood of huge Gilded Age skyscrapers with gigantic marble facades, all pillars and gables. You get the feeling that you have to be at least an archangel just to be walking there.
It is not a warm place. While the impressive buildings dwarf the humans scurrying about in their shadows, the trash and mess blowing around leaves you with the impression of a lack of soul. Very little matters here except who can make who rich and to how many zeroes. No children laugh and play, no dogs are walked, no street bands perform. Sinister black limousines roll by in an endless stream, like gleaming sharks, their windows so black that they might as well be hearses. The signs say "no standing any time." As if you would dare think such a thing!
It is the capital of greed to some, but also undeniably the heart of all commerce, wealth, and prosperity, to at least North America, if not the world. So 10cc's 1974 hit "The Wall Street Shuffle" isn't all about condemning the business world; beneath it is a note or two of awe at these strangely powerful people and the control they have over so many. And for just a few lines, the tune even picks up and becomes a jaunty inspiration, all about needing a yen to make a mark and the luck to make a buck. But make no mistake, this is also the place where you'd "sell your mother, you can buy another."
Unlike some bands who write songs about places they've never even been, 10cc actually got the idea for "The Wall Street Shuffle" when they drove through the place. The tone of the song matches the character of the place, and most certainly the place as it's perceived in our age, with the recent scandals right at the end of the Bush administration provoking so many Americans to become disgusted with these stuffed suits and the power games they play.
It is uncanny that this song was made in 1974. But then, 25 years from now, it will probably be topical yet again.
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