No this is not a cover of the Beatles track of the same name, this is a Dube original. But, while the Beatles track just bemoans the fact that the taxman taxes everything (‘if you get too cold I’ll tax the heat’), Dube questions what is being done with his tax. The opening stanza has Dube listing people he pays and what he gets in return for the payment (‘I pay my gardener to clean up my garden’), but then ends the stanza wondering where his tax money goes (‘There is only one man I pay, but I don’t known what I’m paying for/I’m talking about the taxman’).
The subject matter is one that most people can relate to, and one could debate for ages on politics of the topic. However, there is a sad irony in the lines where he sings that he pays for the police, but there is still crime, given that the taxes he paid could not prevent the crime of his murder. There is anger in the words, but Dube’s voice stays steady enough to keep it from becoming a rant, but rather tries to make if a call for a stop to corruption.
All this is done to a pacey reggae beat but there is an electric guitar let loose at various times throughout the song which add to the anger in the message. The song is a bit like a cross between Peter Tosh’s ‘The Poor Man Feel It’ and his ‘Johnny B Goode’ in that it has lyrics akin to the former and a sound akin to the latter. Dube’s voice also has a similar edge to that Tosh’s has, making this a great reggae tune that is not only South African because of who the artist is, but also global because of the subject matter.
Where to find it:
Taxman – Lucky Dube, (1997), Gallo Records, CDLUCKY11