I’m reading Blake Shelton’s lyric to the song ‘Minimum Wage.’
‘You can make a six pack on the carpet
Taste like a million dollar bill
You can make a one bed room apartment
Feel like a house up on the hill
You can make my truck out in the driveway
Roll like a cleaned up Cadillac
Girl, lookin' at you lookin' at me that way
Can make a man feel rich on minimum wage’
I get Shelton’s instinct to romanticize ‘common man.’ Beer and trucks and work and women. Lots of songs do. He’s singing to his people. They love these ideas.
‘Yeah, I met you 'fore anyone knew my name
Playin' for pennies on the dive bar stage
Split an all-star special on our first date
In a Waffle House booth
Your daddy was cryin' when he gave you away
'Cause all those country songs I played
They didn't come with a 401k
But hey, I had you’
Shelton hits every image. Working your way up from the bottom. Dive bars. Waffle House. This is the story, the myth, really. It’s important, a salve to hard times.
It also serves as a keystone political statement. There’s no turning from the fact this is a political issue and Shelton chooses to put it out there painted with romantic colors. Get what you can with your own hard work. And if you can’t, accept what you get. Minimum wage.
Songwriter Lyle Lovett says, “I think the point of a song is to just say something that’s true, or that expresses an idea that reflects something that’s true, whether it’s a truth about human nature or about the way people bullshit one another.”
So Shelton makes a song and drops it into the middle of a pandemic, where so many are struggling to survive. It makes me cringe a little, but not judge. A millionaire country singer says he’s writing a love song to his fiancé, millionaire pop star Gwen Stefani. It’s legit. Both Stefani and Shelton have dive bar roots.
I guess my issue is the glorification of a $7.50 an hour wage. In the 21st century American economy, that’s nothing to sing about.