The original version of “Middle Class Blues” was written / copyrighted back in 1998.
*Song title is a video link. If you open it as a 2nd browser window (new tab), that'll allow you to listen as you read.
As is sometimes the case, I liked the song, but not the arrangement.
In 2001 I remedied that situation with a partial rewrite.
The revised version incorporated several new elements:
- a 40 second introduction
- a 2nd guitar part (rhythm)
This new arrangement was re-recorded & that’s the version you’re hearing now.
The song evolved from a guitar progression, set in minor pentatonic block form.
- I stumbled upon the pattern while practicing scales
- Built a song & melody around it
- Chose a topic that worked well with the music
- Created a lyric
In a nutshell, it’s about the plight of middle-class America.
As you might expect, it’s written from my perspective & based primarily on personal observations & experiences.
Completely appropriate since songwriting is a means of creative self-expression.
Got those middle class blues
Well when I look at my economic state
With what I make I ought to be livin’ great
You gotta know my heart gets to feelin’ down
When tax time comes around
I pay for schools that I don’t even use
I fund a war on drugs that we’re bound to lose
You got know that I keep-a-waitin’ for
Some way to even the score
Got those middle class blues!
Well now I know that I need to pay my share
But while suppliers get rich from Medicare
I’ve got to ask myself what it’s all about
I just can’t figure it out !
The wealthy don’t pay much, cause they know the game
The underprivileged can’t, the end result’s the same
That leaves the middle class to pay & pay
Hope we get our someday!
Got the middle class blues!
Copyright 1998 – Tom Hoffman
Over the years, the timeless nature of this lyric has been mentioned more than once.
Sadly enough, it’s as relevant now as it was in 98.
- Purchasing power of the middle class hasn’t improved.
- Middle class tax burden hasn’t decreased.
- I still pay into a tax base for schools that I’ve never used. NO, I’m not advocating a school voucher alternative! I simply have no children. No children = no use of schools.
- Our “war on drugs” has been an utter failure, yet we continue funding it with tax dollars year after year.
- Pharmaceutical profits continue to grow, since our government is no longer allowed to negotiate the cost of Medicare drugs. Thank you G.B.!
- More tax loopholes exist for the wealthy today.
- The poor are no more able to contribute to our tax base than they were in 98.
- Leaving the middle class to shoulder the lions’ share of the tax burden.
The end result being – “We’ve got the Middle-Class Blues!”
None of those areas has shown improvement in the past 20 years.
I’m sure there are conclusions to be drawn from that, but I leave those to you.
I am but a humble songwriter stating the obvious.
Introduction / Verse – Verse - Refrain / Guitar Based Verse-Refrain Section /
Verse – Verse - Refrain / Ends on Repeat of Musical Refrain
“Middle Class Blues” is a guitar-based arrangement…key of A# minor.
If I do say so myself, some of my more creative guitar work.
When I made the decision to add that 40 second musical introduction, I doomed the song to commercial failure.
If you weren’t aware, long introductions are frowned upon in the world of commercial songwriting.
Since the average listener tends to focus on vocal, delaying its’ entry is tempting fate.
Attention spans being what they are, your listener may go elsewhere.
BUT…since I’m not a professional songwriter, my focus was on creating a well written song, not a commercially viable one!
When you make your living elsewhere, you can afford to base decisions on personal preference, rather than industry norms.
That being said, I did build in a little something to help with damage control...“Got those Middle Class Blues”!
That single line of vocal at the beginning of the song:
1. Tells the listener that there WILL BE vocals in the song. Why does that matter? Because some people, including my wife, won't listen to instrumentals. If she thinks it’s an instrumental, she will simply turn it off.
2. Re-enforces the lyrical hook…that catchy phrase you want to stick in your listeners’ head after the song has ended. BTW in this song, it’s also the last line heard.
Final Production Notes
This was one of the first songs I recorded after upgrading to the digital realm.
My Tascam PortaStudio 788 had a total of 8 recordable tracks…6 mono & one stereo pair (tracks 7 & 8).
- 4 tracks were used for guitar, all done with my SG
- 1 track for bass guitar
- 1 for vocal
- Drums were recorded in stereo (7/8)
Guitars, Bass, Drums & Vocal – Tom Hoffman
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