The Pope Francis Playlist: Songs Against the Idolatry of Money

Pope Francis likes to warn against the idolatry of money so prevalent in our day… so I made a Pope Francis Playlist. The songs excoriate, lament or exhort those who consider money something more important than God and/or man.

What songs did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Dust Bowl Dance

You’ve got to start a Pope Francis playlist with Mumford & Sons, so I did so with Dust Bowl Dance, an angry song against exploitation. The powerful ending begins: “How can you love what it is you have got /When you took it all from the weak hands of the poor? / Liars and thieves you know not what is in store.”

Gotta Serve Somebody

This is a great song about how everyone – rich, poor and in between – have to reckon with a higher power in the end. (A Dylan runner-up list would have to include “Sundown on the Union” about how greed destroyed unions.) Dylan versions aren’t on YouTube, so here’s Etta James (ignore the weird engine starting sounds at the beginning) …

My City Was Gone

Government greed is very real, as this song by the Pretenders shows (controversial because Rush Limbaugh co-opted its baseline opening). The Beatles “Taxman” is another great song about government greed, as is “Big Yellow Taxi,” but I left that one off because only the chorus makes sense to me …

Richard Cory

Material wealth is shown to be empty and unfulfilling in Simon and Garfunkle’s song version of the Edwin Arlington Robinson poem about business success leading to despair.

I Don’t Want To Be

Here is a song against the desire to be high and mighty, an anthem of contentment with being blue collar, of which there are many examples by many artists. “Workin’ for a Livin'” by Huey Lewis and the News is one. “Working Man” by Rush is another.  I like this one, though, because it reminds me specifically of my dad, who was a prison guard’s son.

Cat’s in the Cradle

Family needs to come before career, and this song is a bitter reminder.


I knew I needed Bruce on here, but I couldn’t decide which one. So I asked my friend Eddie Mulholland, who said: “Badlands,” where he talks about faith hope and love as a way to escape the badlands, where “poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and the king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything.”

Welcome to the Boomtown

But greed comes in all shapes and sizes. I loved this song in the 1980s. It decried the tragic consequences of banal lives of ease and pleasure ….

Satisfied Mind

This song sums up our theme. Bob Dylan’s version on Saved is the best, but this one by Robert Plant and company comes closest.

So … What songs should I add to my Pope Francis playlist?



  • Greg Aitchison

    A ton of music by Derek Webb (formerly of Caedmon’s Call) fits the Pope Francis bill.

    Check out “Rich Young Ruler” for starters.

    Good stuff!

  • Vincent

    U2: “Crumbs From Your Table”

  • Andrea

    “For the Love of Money”
    [1974] The O’Jays – For The Love Of Money (Soul Train)

  • Andrea

    This is also an excellent song about money by the O’Jays.

  • Anton

    Head like a hole- nine inch nails

  • Michael

    One must be super careful when approaching this subject. To judge people as greedy is to judge their hearts, for there is no way of knowing how much they give to help others, for it was Jesus Himself that told us to give without announcing to the world what you gave. Pope Francis is right to warn people, for the greedy will hear his warning and hear it or ignore it. But who are we to judge someone as greedy when we simply may not know.



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