Barrett Strong - Money (That's What I Want) - 1960

Barrett Strong - Money (That's What I Want) - 1960

Money (That's What I Want) is a song performed by Barrett Strong, released in 1960. It holds a significant place in music history as one of the earliest hits for Motown, a record label that would go on to shape the sound of a generation.

Background and Release

The song was written by Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford and was the first hit record for Gordy's Motown enterprise. Berry Gordy, who would later establish Motown as a music industry powerhouse, co-wrote the song, blending rhythm and blues with pop influences. The song's raw energy and direct message about the universal desire for money marked a departure from the more polished and refined sound of earlier pop music.

Musical Style and Influence

With its pounding piano riff and Strong's impassioned vocals, "Money (That's What I Want)" exemplifies the early sound of Motown. It combined elements of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and soul, setting the stage for Motown's later successes. The song has been covered by numerous artists, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Flying Lizards, demonstrating its wide-reaching influence across different music genres.

Legacy and Cultural Impact

The song not only marked the beginning of Motown's dominance in the music industry but also reflected the cultural shifts of the early 1960s. Its emphasis on financial success and material wealth can be seen as a reflection of the growing consumer culture in America at the time. "Money (That's What I Want)" has been recognized by various music historians and institutions for its impact on popular music and its role in the evolution of Motown.

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What was notable about "Money (That's What I Want)" in relation to Motown Records? (It was one of the earliest hits for Motown) (!It was the last hit for Motown) (!It was the first song recorded at Motown) (!It was the first Motown song to use a synthesizer)

Who were the songwriters of "Money (That's What I Want)"? (Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford) (!Barrett Strong and Smokey Robinson) (!Berry Gordy and Marvin Gaye) (!Janie Bradford and Stevie Wonder)

Which of the following genres does "Money (That's What I Want)" combine? (Rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and soul) (!Jazz, blues, and hip-hop) (!Country, pop, and rhythm and blues) (!Soul, funk, and disco)

Which band covered "Money (That's What I Want)" and helped popularize it further? (The Beatles) (!The Rolling Stones) (!Pink Floyd) (!The Beach Boys)

What theme does "Money (That's What I Want)" primarily focus on? (Material wealth and financial success) (!Love and relationships) (!Social and political issues) (!Personal freedom and independence)

Quiz: Questions on Barrett Strong

What role did Barrett Strong primarily have in his music career? (Singer and songwriter) (!Drummer) (!Bass guitarist) (!Record producer)

Aside from "Money (That's What I Want)", what is Barrett Strong known for? (His work as a songwriter for many Motown hits) (!Founding Motown Records) (!Being a member of The Temptations) (!Inventing a new music genre)

In which era did Barrett Strong become most active in the music industry? (1960s) (!1950s) (!1970s) (!1980s)

With which famous Motown artist did Barrett Strong collaborate frequently as a songwriter? (Marvin Gaye) (!Michael Jackson) (!Diana Ross) (!Stevie Wonder)

What was unique about Barrett Strong's style in "Money (That's What I Want)"? (His raw vocal energy and the song's direct message) (!Use of electronic music elements) (!Incorporation of classical music) (!Blending of rap and R&B)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What is the primary message of the song "Money (That's What I Want)"? (The desire for and power of money) (!The importance of love over money) (!A critique of materialism) (!The struggles of poverty)

Which lyric line is repeated throughout the song? ("That's what I want") (!"Money changes everything") (!"Richer than I you can be") (!"Love don't cost a thing")

How does the song "Money (That's What I Want)" start? ("The best things in life are free") (!"I need some money, that's what I want") (!"Just give me money, that's all I need") (!"Money talks, money walks")

What emotion does Barrett Strong's vocal delivery in "Money (That's What I Want)" primarily convey? (Passion and urgency) (!Sadness and despair) (!Humor and light-heartedness) (!Anger and frustration)

What theme is contrasted with the desire for money in the song's lyrics? (The idea that the best things in life are free) (!The power of love) (!The journey to success) (!The value of hard work)


Barrett Strong Singer of "Money (That's What I Want)"
1960 Release year of "Money (That's What I Want)"
Berry Gordy Co-writer of the song
Motown Records Label that released the song
The Beatles Famous band that covered the song

Open Tasks


  1. Research Motown Records: Explore the history of Motown Records and its impact on music.
  2. Cover Versions: Listen to different cover versions of "Money (That's What I Want)" and compare them.
  3. Barrett Strong's Discography: Discover other songs by Barrett Strong.


  1. Songwriting Analysis: Analyze the lyrics of "Money (That's What I Want)" and its message about materialism.
  2. Musical Genre Study: Investigate how the song blends different musical genres.
  3. Cultural Impact: Discuss how the song reflects the cultural and economic atmosphere of the 1960s.


  1. Create a Cover: Record your own version of "Money (That's What I Want)".
  2. Interview Project: Interview people about their perceptions of the song and its message.
  3. Musical Influence Essay: Write an essay on how "Money (That's What I Want)" influenced future music genres.

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Oral Exam

  1. Interpretation Skills: Discuss how "Money (That's What I Want)" can be interpreted in the context of today's economy.
  2. Music History Connection: Explain the significance of Motown Records in the history of popular music, using "Money (That's What I Want)" as an example.
  3. Artistic Influence: Describe how Barrett Strong's style in this song influenced other artists and genres.
  4. Cultural Reflection: Analyze how the song reflects the values and attitudes of its era.
  5. Comparative Analysis: Compare "Money (That's What I Want)" to another song from the same era in terms of theme and musical style.

OERs on the Topic


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