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When you’re an artist bound and determined to tweak people who want to cram you into stylistic compartments against your will, it’s always a good idea to zig and then zag, rather than zig twice in a row.

In other words, before one label gets a chance to stick, reverse course and go back in the other direction to keep them off balance.

If the other side of this single, which was the B-side at the time but is far more modernly familiar, was leaning towards the blues more than many rock fans felt comfortable acknowledging, then this one makes up for your uneasiness by leaning back towards more comfortable rock frameworks.

Of course it’s still Gatemouth Brown we’re talking about so even when you think you’ve got a firm grasp on him, he’s going to try and wriggle free and cross you up again before you know it, so enjoy it while it lasts.


You Won’t Be Having It Long
In rock’s earliest days the guitar was a secondary instrument when it came to taking leads, placing it well behind the tenor sax and piano. Actually if you were ranking the importance of all instruments in the majority of rock bands at the time, it’d barely finish in the top five, as obviously the rhythm section takes precedence over it as well even without many opportunities for soloing spots for bass and drums.

So artists like Gatemouth Brown, a guitarist who wasn’t shy about cutting loose with it, were initially like fish swimming upstream when it came to gaining acceptance AS rockers, since the music industry has always viewed genre categorization as a marketing decision, not a musical one.

Black men with guitars who weren’t playing on elegant club bandstands with charts written out for them HAD to be blues… or so the thinking went at the time.

Brown had no problem playing the blues of course but didn’t want to be confined to it, especially with rock being an even more vibrant music with a bigger following. Yet because of how impressions tend to be influenced by narrow group-think mentality he was still finding it hard to counter the belief that he was intruding on somebody else’s turf all the time.

That’s why songs like You Got Money were so important to fighting that perception because while the guitar is present here, it’s mostly taking a back seat to the piano and horns which drive the track and in the process forge a much more obvious connection to rock’s dominant sound palette of the early fifties.

Of course it also doesn’t hurt that the song embodies the swaggering attitude that rock excelled at from the start, proving once again that artistic intent is far more relevant than industry labeling when it comes to defining who and what you are.


You In Hurry… I’ve Got Lots Of Time
The rolling piano that opens this, which wouldn’t be out of place on a Fats Domino record, get this off to a rollicking start before Gatemouth Brown even enters the room. When he does stride into the picture he’s actually keeping his guitar in its holster, letting the horns set the pace alongside the keyboard. It’s the insistent beat underneath it the whole time however that makes this work so well, giving it the kind of muscular presence that is irresistible.

What Brown adds to this in the vocals only makes a great song even better, as it presents a basic scenario wherein he’s seemingly beneath the girl he’s addressing – financially obviously, but also socially and in terms of opportunity – but as it goes along his patience is a virtue as the tide slowly changes in his favor.

In many ways You Got Money represents the increasing upward mobility of Black America as a whole… conditionally of course, but considering the even more regressive economic realities of the pre-war years it’s easy to see why optimism was on the upswing in the early 1950’s.

By replacing the girl in question in the lyrics with a catch-all white society stand-in the lyrics take on an even more sinister meaning. “With all your riches you got no peace of mind, so doggone scared of some punk coming up behind”.

What’s that addressing if not the entrenched resistance to Civil Rights gains?

Now it doesn’t much matter if that thought crossed his mind because regardless of the target of his screed, the proud insolence is the real message he’s conveying, whether to a lone girl or an entire oppressive demographic. The conviction he has in making this claim that “I’ll still be around when you’re dead and gone” is energizing to those who heard it, letting every listener, no matter their station in life, take pride in things that don’t require money to obtain, such as determination, perseverance and confidence.

Those are the attributes that pay off in the end and while having some cash to further your goals is obviously helpful, those with money but no faith in their own character and abilities won’t do them much good.

Brown of course has got plenty of faith in his own ability, especially when it comes to guitar playing, as he gives us a razor-sharp solo that makes for a particularly thrilling divergence from the piano/horns dichotomy that had defined You Got Money for the first minute, and will pick up the ball again once Gate hands it back to them when he’s done.

The sounds he elicits from the instrument in the second break, where he’s just in support for the sax for much of it, are even more electrifying, hammering out notes that are the aural equivalent of broken shards of glass hitting the floor.

By the time it all wraps up with him declaring the one who’s GOT the money is miserable while he’s “so doggone happy” you tell yourself, of course he’s happy… why wouldn’t he be after cutting a record this good.


Still Be Around
Just because a record is good unfortunately doesn’t mean it will be a hit and this one wasn’t. As a result Gatemouth Brown, though a consistently solid seller around the Gulf Region, wasn’t able to parlay that into star-status.

Maybe more importantly to our way of thinking is that without the more rock-oriented songs like You Got Money connecting strongest and thus forcibly changing his image away from the singles that leaned back towards the blues, his prevailing musical identification remained in flux.

But even so, as long as he was releasing records this exciting it was kind of hard to complain.

After all, if Brown himself was still acting like he was on top of the world without money, without hits, without nearly enough acclaim for his talents, then it just might prove that he’s the only one who’s learned one of life’s most valuable lessons which is you aren’t defined by how others think of you, but by how you think of yourself.

Still, just so we’re on record for stating it unequivocally, we think pretty highly of him too.


(Visit the Artist page of Gatemouth Brown for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)