'Tarp Song' spawns unlikely leader against bailouts
Do you want some TARP?
Bill Zucker wants some and so do his legions of followers. Zucker, a 53-year-old musician from Hollywood, Fla., wrote the "Tarp Song" a few weeks ago.
After e-mailing his recording to CNBC, he immediately received a response from a company executive, asking for permission to play the song on the air. For the rest of that morning broadcast, CNBC anchors raved about the song's catchiness.
They weren't the only ones with the "Tarp Song" stuck in their heads. Since then, Zucker has filmed a silly video to accompany the lighthearted nature of the song, which has received more than 81,000 hits on YouTube in less than two weeks and a great deal of praise in the video's comments.
Though the music and lyrics seem bouncy and fun, the subject matter is anything but. TARP, the Troubled Assets Relief Program, is a U.S. government plan to spend taxpayer money on purchasing equity in businesses in the hopes to strengthen the financial sector.
"I want some TARP," Zucker sings in the song's chorus. "They're giving money away for free. I want some TARP. Save a little bit for me."
Zucker calls the Obama administration's program a slight to the average American. Just about every industry, from failing banks to automakers, seems to think it's entitled to a piece of the pie.
"When I hear that the porn industry wants TARP, that disgusts me," Zucker said. "But they would get it faster than the guy, who has a business on the corner."
People seem to be buying into Zucker's ideals. He has been receiving ...
... fan mail from victims of a faltering economy, looking for advice or expressing their mutual desires for some TARP. Zucker, who has little knowledge of politics, has become a sort of accidental hero.
"No one is spending," Zucker said, illustrating the dire economic situation. "No one is happy like they used to be. No one is opening restaurants."
Zucker's song is providing some listeners with comfort.
"People laugh so hysterically [at the song] that I'm not sure if it's the humor or just the hurt they have inside," he said.
The "Tarp Song", Zucker says, was written in the same amount of time it takes to listen to it. Perhaps the lyrics flowed so freely because Zucker is facing many of the financial problems he sings about.
As a struggling musician, he turned to real estate and the stock market as a source of steady income. Those sectors, as it turned out, were less than reliable. Zucker hopes the "Tarp Song," which is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon music stores, can give a much needed boost to his music career.
News seems to emerge every day about bailout recipients misusing funds. The Lehman Brothers chief executive selling his $14 million mansion to his wife for $100. Citibank's $45 million private jet purchase. Merrill Lynch's $87,000 rug.
Zucker has been sounding off in numerous interviews about his disdain for TARP's execution. Zucker plans to organize the public outrage with his Million Tarp-head Dance on Washington, which he says will take place some time in the spring.
The video for the "Tarp Song" is embedded at the top of this post. Warning: the song will get stuck in your hand. Watch at your own risk.
-- Mark Milian
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