Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Inflation’ By Earnest Jackson
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest Music
Music is often an outlet for songwriters to express their political and personal frustrations. That was the
case with the New Orleans singer-songwriter Earnest Jackson, who in 1975 composed the song
“Inflation” in response to being adversely affected by the high cost of living.
Jackson collaborated with the instrumental funk band Sugar Daddy and the Gumbo Roux, to record the topical tune. But it remained unreleased until recently.
The group’s keyboardist Kinny Landrum sent an email to NPR’s “Planet Money.” He was in possession of a demo cassette of the song, and due to the renewed timeliness of the subject matter, he reached out to inquire if “Planet Money” could feature the tune. “Planet Money” ended up forming a record label for the sole purpose of distributing the song and giving it the long-overdue exposure that it deserves.
Jackson sings, “Inflation is in the nation, and it’s about to put us all away.” Just like in the 1970s, folks are now being crushed by low wages and rising prices. This 47-year-old ditty is the perfect
anthem for our current times.
Several members of the funk band went on to have careers in the music industry, most notably music
executive and former American Idol judge Randy Jackson (no relation to Earnest).
For Earnest, success mostly eluded him. He had a #22 US Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1973 with a cover of Al Green’s “Love and Happiness,” but he missed out on royalties—only receiving a one-time fee of $150.
Feeling exploited and discarded by the music industry, he pursued a different path and worked as a waiter for 30 years. Thankfully, he is now receiving another opportunity to share his music with the world.
Listen to ‘Inflation’ By Earnest Jackson and Sugar Daddy and the Gumbo Roux