Marginalism in Song

I could tell you fancy I could tell you plain
You give something up for everything you gain
Since every pleasure got an edge of pain
Pay for your ticket and don't complain
-- Bob Dylan and Robert Hunter, "Silvio"


  1. I remember reading an interesting post on the relationship between marginalism and Pick Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon". I was going to post it here, but when I looked it up on the internet I found it was you who wrote it, 4 years ago.

    Anyway, for anyone else interested....

    1. Yes, once a musician always a musician. You'll find musical themes in much of Gene's philosophizing. As a musician myself, I completely understand this.

      On Pink Floyd, it is weird, I'm almost the "outsider" PF fan. I mean, I always loved how they could create so much emotion out of some very basic arrangements, and when I began soloing on the guitar Gilmore's lines were often helpful because of the amount of feeling that could be gleaned from such simple patterns (he used mostly pentatonic, minor, and blues scales), but my preferences haven't much gone in step with total album sales.

      When it comes to their albums my top 4 are in order: Animals, Wish You Were Here, Dark Side, and The Wall. While I own their entire output, clearly my order of preference is not in line with the actual sales of each album; they're almost exactly reversed. Further, I prefer some selections of songs on the overall less desirable albums than selections of songs on the overall more desirable albums, and this changes depending upon my mood.

      Certainly, the law of supply and demand can elaborate certain tendencies of economic actions and prices, but it does not give us any picture as to what *is* in the here and now. Ultimately, it comes down to the margin of those who wish to part with one thing in exchange for another, and the numbers upon which are the result really don't mean a thing.

  2. At the margin of course we should be indifferent, and sometimes find we regret our choice. Irving Berlin:

    After you get what you want, you don't want it
    If I gave you the moon, you'd grow tired of it soon
    And tho' I sit upon your knee
    You'll grow tired of me
    'Cause after you get what you want
    You don't want what you wanted at all