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"dollar store"


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Sometimes you wrestle with a song for a couple of years and you get to a point where you have no idea if you've won or the song has won. Such is the case with "dollar store." When I was back in the Midwest over the summer two or three years ago, I was struck by the growth of the various dollar-store chains in the rural areas. I read up on them and their business model. In essence, their existence and growth is predicated on there being a permanent American underclass; their executives have said so in as many words.

This song has gone through more versions and rewrites than I care to count, and this is about the fifth or sixth melody I've come up with. This is the February 2020 version and, at least for today, it is growing on me. There are still a couple of issues; I fear "TANF" will lose some people, and I'm unsure about the use of the 7th chord (in this case, an F7) in the chorus.

That said, Tom T. Hall famously said that any song worth writing is worth rewriting, so here is version No. 278 of "dollar store."



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1 hour ago, Murph said:

Ya gotta buy toilet paper somewhere.

Well, that’s just it. The chains come in and use their advantage of scale to undercut locally owned businesses, who often find it difficult to compete and so they go out of business. The problem is compounded when the chains hit up local governments for tax breaks (“Hey, we’re bringing jobs to your town!”) and the mom-and-pops are left saying, “Where’s our tax break?”

So the mom-and-pops go out of business. They sold produce, too, but the chains only sell processed food. I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes.

Then, somewhere along the line, the accountants in some windowless office at the chain’s HQ decide the store’s margins aren’t what they ought to be, so they close it. (I’ve also seen this.) So in a relatively short period of time, the town has gone from having a locally owned grocery to nothing at all. So you wind up driving miles to the next town for toilet paper.

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2 hours ago, jedzep said:

The permanent underclass is global, as we know, and most street marketplaces in 3rd world countries are pretty much 'dollar' stores, except filthier. 

Yep...what Murph said.

Indeed, it is global, but the street marketplaces I've been to in the Third World generally exist to serve their communities and are locally run. They aren't necessarily predicated on a predatory business model that is partially dependent upon local governments for tax breaks that aren't necessarily available to local businesses. It is the whole government-shouldn't-pick-winners-and-losers thing.

This piece was published last year, after I had come up with earlier versions of the song, but it is an interesting read: https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2019/0308/Sign-of-hope-or-worry-When-the-dollar-store-comes-to-town

Edited by dhanners623
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A pretty honest composition and performance right there.   I've been in an originals band for about 2 decades now, 

What you're saying about many versions until it's "right" to you.  Agree.  It's amazing how songs end up, based on where they start.

We've got more than a few that were not even recognizable from the first rough cut to what was recorded and called done.

Nice work man!

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Decided the song wasn't muscular enough. The subject matter needs a three-chords-and-the-truth approach. It needed some raw Americana injected into it. I started playing around with chords (just three...) and came up with a new melody, which led to a new chorus which led to this, which I am calling "done." The new "dollar store":


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