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Brenn Hill Sings A Song Of 'Debt'


It's rare these days to turn on your radio and not hear reports on the sputtering economy, rising fuel prices, and people struggling to make ends meet. And it's not just public radio. Even your local country music station is playing the blues. From What's in a Song, our occasional series from the Western Folklife Center, here's one tune about hard times.

Mr. BRENN HILL (Songwriter): My name is Brenn Hill and I'm a songwriter from Hooper, Utah.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. HILL: I'm in the X generation. I think this generation is sort of the "have it now, pay for it later" generation.

(Soundbite of song "Debt")

Mr. HILL: (Singing) I got a brand new custom rambler with rooms I've never seen. And a matching 10-stall barn that's any cowboy's dream. I got a brand new diesel pickup truck that I can't afford to drive. We're putting groceries on the credit card so we can stay alive.

I think we've grown up watching people basically have a lot of prosperity. And the picture is painted that all we really need to do is sign on the dotted line to have that prosperity when there's a whole lot of work and effort that really should come before that. So that song is about - a lot of friends that I have that basically signed on the dotted line and just live on the brink of disaster.

(Soundbite of song "Debt")

Mr. HILL: (Singing) Because I'm in debt, I'm only 29. Well I kiss my wife every morning. I watch her drive away. And there ain't no time for loving when you got big bills to pay. But she sure looks sexy driving in her luxury sedan...

When you talk about going to school and even really at the university level, I didn't get a whole lot of personal financial advisement from my teachers. Matter of fact, I think more popular on college campuses these days is credit card applications. Get them while we're young, you know.

(Soundbite of song "Debt")

Mr. HILL: (Singing) And my friends they look at me and they think I'm doing fine. But I take my paycheck and send it on down the line. Because I'm in debt and I'm only 29. I think a lot of folks are living just like me. Waiting for the day they can break free from all this debt.

It's interesting. This song has garnered a lot of varied responses and I think, to be honest with you, with some folks it's just too painful. I remember I was playing the song in southern Arizona at a private function, and a lot of the folks there were obviously fairly well to do, buying, you know, expensive art that night, and I played the song. I think they felt bad for me. A guy walked right up out of the audience and stuck a 20-dollar bill in my shirt. I thought, man, I got to play this song more often, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song "Debt")

Mr. HILL: (Singing) Honey, grab me that credit card. I'll pay for that later.

HANSEN: That's Brenn Hill with his song, "Debt." If you want to hear the whole thing, go to the music section of our Web site at What's in a Song is produced by Hal Kennon(ph) and Taki Telonidis(ph) of the Western Folklife Center.

(Soundbite of song, "My Old Chevy")

Mr. HILL: (Singing) Your Chevy, all covered up in dust. Sell them in the driveway... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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