Money for Nothing

“Got to install microwave ovens, custom kitchen deliverieee-eee-eees…”

So much to talk about, so little time…

Shall we begin by chatting about what’s perhaps the most recognizable guitar riff from the 80s? Or maybe that killer video with the computer-animated moving guys? Or maybe Sting’s cameo? Or maybe, just maybe, we should start with all the brouhaha about ‘that’ word.

Yes, let’s start there.

So the original (read: ‘album’) version of Dire Straits’ super-hit “Money for Nothing” includes three occurrences of a rather not-so-nice word for homosexuals, as the song’s narrator bemoans how pop music stars are enjoying a pretty nice life despite any discernible talent. Fortunately, the words are in a stand-alone verse that could easily be edited out for radio play. (Not that that mattered, though. There were plenty of ‘edgier’ rock stations in the 80s that played the ‘uncensored’ version). We here at BotE aren’t going to get all political and what-not, and yes, Mr. Knopfler could have chosen his words better, but in all fairness, he’s singing as a character in the song, and (as Knopfler later said himself) that character has a ‘hard-hat mentality’- not exactly the brightest tool in the box.

Moving on…

Seriously, is there a song from the 80s that is more apt to get you playing air guitar than this one? That completely unique sound that rock guitarists from around the world tried so desperately to figure out (to no avail) was a thing of beauty. Ironically, Knopfler admitted he was trying to imitate someone himself when he came up with the sound.

Which brings us to Sting. Fresh off the release of his first solo album, Sting was asked by Knopfler to sing background and also start and end the song with that falsetto “I want my MTVeeeee…”, and then he performed the song with Dire Straits at Live Aid, just three weeks after the song was released. In our humble opinion: great song, sure. But with Sting? Epic song.

And so we’ve come to the video:

Sure, nowadays computer animation is all the rage, but back in the mid 80s, friends, music videos were one of two things: concert or concept. Either the band/singer was performing on a stage, or they were running through the Sri Lankan jungle singing about the Earth being afire. Now, though, we were starting to get some whiz-bang computer imagery to spice things up. And yes, while the ‘moving guys’ parts may seem a little 8-bit, the neon superimposed over the band was pretty darn slick.

“Money for Nothing” was a huge hit for Dire Straits… 22 weeks on the chart, peaking at #1 for three weeks in September of 1985 and cementing its position as the sixth biggest song of the year.

That ain’t working. That’s the way you do it.

We ♥ Money for Nothing.


~ by weheart80s on May 25, 2011.

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