If I Had a Million Dollars…

I taught a writing lesson to first graders this week about “If I Had a Lot of Money.” I remembered the old Barenaked Ladies song, “If I Had a Million Dollars” and played it for them. One kid said, “Why can’t I stop singing this song?” One kid said, “That’s not true, you can’t buy love.” He got a star for saying that.

I forgot how ridiculous the song was. What a stupid, corny song, even beyond how cute it is that 30 years ago a million dollars was enough money to imagine yourself as a rich snob. Let’s break down this junker of limited imagination and forced comedy.


If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you a house.

Good, that’s a good thing to buy.

If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you furniture for your house.

Good, furnishings are necessary for a new house. But he loses me quickly with the cutesy commentary.

Maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman.

It doesn’t even rhyme or flow with the beat! Plus, all you need for the new house is an uncomfortable leather sofa and an ottoman? An ottoman, I mean what is this, a whole empire based on putting your feet up, I mean, who are these people? Where’s the mention of a king size bed, plush carpets, espresso machines, indoor steam rooms, massage chairs, reclining chairs, mahogany tables, movie rooms, blackout curtains, in-ground pool, hell even a nice fridge is better than a chesterfield couch. We learn pretty quickly, he doesn’t mention those things because this person is a stupid-head. The song should be called, the worst things to get with a million dollars. I disagree with basically everything purchased hereafter.

If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you a K-car. A nice, reliant automobile. And if I Had a million dollars, I’d buy your love.

Okay, I had to look it up. K-cars were reliable clunkers popular in the 80’s when the song was written, presumably around a campfire of sober Canadian dweebs trying to impress the one girl who was “really a looker, eh?” Boring choice, a K-car, not even a Volvo? At least that name is funny. Just say any Italian branded car and call it a day, you have a million dollars in the early 90’s dude, get her a freakin’ Ferrari! Now, as for buying love, that’s a hard one. Rich men can definitely buy trophy wives, and don’t get all #MeToo, how else can you explain Melania Trump and Anna Nicole Smith?

If I had a million dollars, I’d build a tree fort in our yard.

A slick rhetorical device here as he has now moved in with that cute Canuck and has proceeded past interior decorations, transportation and is now beautifying the back yard with some kind of claptrap particle board tree house in their little maple tree. It’s not an altogether bad idea, but…let’s be serious, you’re not building a tree fort. It’s a tree house. And why does she want the windfall million dollars spent on a middle school hiding spot? Maybe I don’t understand Canadian ladies.

If I had a million dollars, you could help, it wouldn’t be that hard.

She can help!? I definitely don’t understand Canadian ladies. “Let me get this straight. You’re a millionaire and you want her to help you build your little tree house project? How about putting in a hot tub, or expanding the master bathroom? How old are you?” It would be hard and she (probably, who knows, she’s Canadian and possibly from Flin Flon, Manitoba, but even so) doesn’t want to help.

If I had a million dollars, maybe we could put a little tiny fridge in there somewhere. We could just go up there and hang out. Like open the fridge and stuff and there’d be foods laid out for us like little pre-wrapped sausages. But they don’t have pre-wrapped bacon. Well, can you blame them? Yeah.

This is absolutely the most confusing passage in the whole song, where to start? A tiny fridge, ok, not a bad idea, but now it’s a fire hazard and what’s wrong with a nice, safe cooler? You could afford a Yeti or whatever its equivalent was in 1990. And did you just say hang out and open the fridge and stuff? I’m starting to think this was this written by a 13-year-old. But worst of all, pre-wrapped sausages! COLD, pre-wrapped sausages. Dude, you have not thought this out. There is quite an assortment of 1990 food stuffs that should be included in your little tree house mini-fridge. Sausages is really low on that list right between soggy mushrooms and uncooked rice. Pre-wrapped sausages? What am I gonna do, with pre-wrapped sausages? From the POV of the new gf, “We don’t have a hot plate or even chairs, but, you want me to help you build this tree house, haul up a fridge, drag an extension cord out there and then nibble cold sausage and just kinda hang out and stuff?” Please, Barenaked Ladies guy, get to the nearest Blockbuster (remember, it’s 1990?) and rent some John Cusack movies and learn what ladies want, it most certainly is not outdoor picnics in trees gnawing sausage. And chucklehead, what are you talking about? Do you buy lots of loose bacon? Maybe in Calgary or Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan or wherever you come from, bacon comes sold by the slice, but in the civilized world south of the 49th parallel, packages of pre-wrapped bacon are sold in most general stores.

If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you a fur coat, but not a real fur coat, that’s cruel. And if I had a million dollars, I’d buy you an exotic pet. Yep, like a llama or an emu.

OK, here we find a place to agree. Fur is very freaking cruel and unnecessary, even in the final decade of that brutal, coarse, unenlightened 20th century. But then you follow it up with an exotic pet? Why does she want a spitting llama or a deathly serious emu? Llamas are predictably annoying and unfriendly and emus are like dumb velociraptors that live in Australia. Why would an emu be able to thrive in Edmonton or Oshawa, Ontario? You’re being silly here. Womenfolk like puppies bro! Get thee to a puppery and adopt a little Labrador, they even have a Canadian name!

And if I had a million dollars, I’d buy you John Merrick’s remains. All them crazy elephant bones.

Seriously, what kind of a doughhead am I dealing with here? The gf is so incredulous she can merely summarize his morbid wish, “You want to buy the bones of a man who was famous for having a malformed, twisted body and lived a horrifically lonely and sad life as an outcast? What do you even want to do with them? Where would you like these bones to be displayed? Because I’m not chillin with llamas, gobbling cold sausage while enormous deformed bones hang on the tree house wall.” You’re losing her in a hurry, quick, tell her something mature that at least sounds rich, the way a 13-year-old visualizes affluence.

If I had a million dollars, we wouldn’t have to walk to the store, we’d take a limousine cause it costs more.

Well done, ya keener. That’s right, we’ll take a limousine, a big one. Instead of buying a badass Hummer or a stylish pickup, it’s fancy pants chauffeured shopping for us. The limo isn’t needed because of the numerous purchases of plastic-wrapped sausage or fruit snacks, but, just because it costs more. This Barenaked lunk is gonna run through his money, just buying whatever costs more. He’s a dum-dum and so new money.

If I had a million dollars, we wouldn’t have to eat Kraft dinner, but we would eat Kraft dinner? Of course, we would, we’d just eat more and buy really expensive ketchups with it. That’s right, all the fanciest Dijon ketchups.

American translation: Kraft dinner=Kraft macaroni & cheese. You would still eat it but just eat more? You wouldn’t buy handmade pasta from a pastaio, nor fresh, delicious cheese and milk to melt over it? Hey, who am I talking to here? This friggin guy has a million dollars, a tree house and is trying to impress his Canadian beaver that he knows how to live right, and he follows up limo shopping with box Mac & cheese with ketchup. Ugh. And the Dijon ketchup doesn’t even make sense, Dijon is a mustard, and ketchup is for children.

If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you a green dress. But not a real green dress that’s cruel.

Exasperation beginning to settle in as these guys botch another lay-up with a stupid joke that lands like an egg drop, like an airplane with no wheels, like the folly of giving a giving a 20-year-old Canadian man-child a million dollars. WTF is cruel about a green dress? Buy her a real green dress, bro! She helped you build the tree house with shelves for Elephant Man bones, bandaged up her own emu wounds, ate your crappy Kraft dinner five nights in a row, her new house has nothing but a sofa and an Ottoman, get her something nice ya goofy bender!

If I had a million dollars, well, I’d buy you some art, a Picasso or a Garfunkel.

Yes, this is tolerably clever in the dad-joke world of puns and one-liners. Haha, good one, art by the cubist master Picasso; and Garfunkel’s first name is Art. You could buy a priceless piece of inspirational, transcendent art or try to contract a singer into servitude. Better idea: you could support a new artist, take painting classes yourself, buy a bed for your unfurnished new home, get food for your llama/emu, or enroll in cooking classes so you know how to make more than Kraft dinner. A million dollars in 1990 could also be invested, providing you more time to record all the stupid campfire songs you want.

If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you a monkey. Haven’t you always wanted a monKEY?

At this point, I imagine the woman had been inching toward the door once she heard her green dress was going to be made out of fruit roll-ups because real green dresses are cruel to the silkworms and cotton plants. When he hits that last high note of monKEY with presumably, the wild-eyed fever of a pubescent teenager gone mad with power; she bursts through the front door like Kool-Aid man and runs until she hits Vancouver, British Columbia.

**Postscript: Barenaked Ladies (BNL) biggest hit came in 1998 with the song, “One Week,” which is uncannily similar to “If I Had a Million Dollars” in its trifling stupidity and remarkable catchiness. These guys are lovable goobers with dumb, dumb lyrics but agreeable rhythms. They’re like white bread Black Eyed Peas. The best thing you can say about BNL is that at least they’re not Nickelback.

$1 Million Dollars (1 Million USD) in physical cash

One thought on “If I Had a Million Dollars…

  1. I want to listen to this silly song. I know it, have heard it numerous times, but do not listen with the same sense of discernment that you do. It is so funny to hear the way your writing voice and dissing the childish lyrics. Love to hear your thoughts.

    Love you – Mom

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