Considering the Chicago mayor's background as an investment banker, the news that Rahm Emanuel helped inspire a banker protest song written by a popular folk singer is somewhat surprising.
According to a Rolling Stone interview with Todd Snider, the inspiration for "New York Banker," a song blasting the banking industry on his forthcoming album "Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables," came during a backstage conversation with Mayor Emanuel before a Chicago show last fall. The Capitol Fax blog reported on the song's unusual source of inspiration on Friday.
(Watch a live performance of the song by Snider below.)
"I was working on a song about the military industrial complex or some shit," Snider explained to the magazine. "Rahm, who's a fan, came backstage, and I was telling him about it. He said that bankers were a bigger threat to normal people than the military, and that if Woody Guthrie was looking for a song, he'd probably be going after those bankers. And I said, 'Well, I'll give it a try.'"
Snider further explained his conversation with the mayor -- which apparently took place before a Nov. 11 concert at Chicago's Park West -- in a Salon interview last month:
"I was telling him it’s a stoner fable. All the stoners in the world are convinced that the world is run by these people that Eisenhower warned us about," Snider said. "He said, 'You’d be surprised how much power the banks have now by comparison.' He pointed out that there’s a song about 'the military and the monetary' by Gil Scott Heron called 'Work for Peace.' So it’s been tackled."
The song tells the story of an Arkansas high school teacher who comes up upon their retirement day "just to find out all the money in our pension was gone."
"We invested in somethin' called the Abacus Bond / Sold to us by a New York banker," the lyrics continue. "Good things happen to bad people, bad people, bad people."
Snider previously spoke with Paste magazine about his friendship with the Chicago mayor:
I know Rahm Emanuel a little. He came to a show in D.C. one time; we had a few beers then and then he and his wife came to my show in Chicago. He worked for Bill Clinton and Obama, so I was enamored. He’s funny and he must think I am.
WATCH Snider perform "New York Banker":