The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Money For Nothing [And I’m Not Talking About Planning]
June 25, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Comment

For someone who loves music [yes, Queen does count as music thank-you-very-much] I’m surprised how little attention I pay to the lyrics.

I’m way more focused on the melody of the lyrics than the lyrics themselves.

That’s always been the case … even when I was writing songs in my own band.

I remember once we were in a studio recording an album [that’s how long ago it was] and being handed a piece of paper with the lyrics of the song we were about to record and being amazed at what they said, despite me writing the music about 10 years earlier.

In fact, my obsession with melody over lyrical content only really started to change when I started incorporating song lyrics into my planning ‘process’ … but even then, I tended to go back to my normality when listening to music purely for my enjoyment purposes.

I highlighted this a few months ago when I “heard” the lyrics to Foreigners ‘Hot Blooded’ song and was shocked at what they said.

From being a song that I always loved listening to in the car, to now being something that is synonymous with dirty old bastards trying to have an affair with some 17 year old babe.

Bloody hell.

Well, recently I came across another ‘classic’ that I listen to properly.

Before I begin, I have to take you back to 1985.

I know, some of you who read this blog weren’t even born yet … but there was a hell of a lot of you who were.

Anyway, 1985 was an interesting year because there was a new technology that was just starting to get some traction.

The CD.

The CD had been heavily promoted as an indestructible, high-sound quality music platform.

They said it couldn’t be scratched. It wouldn’t jump. It would last for years.

Obviously we now know that was all a load of bollocks, but the album that best typified this new generation of music format was Dire Straits, ‘Brothers In Arms’.

I was never a big fan of Dire Straits.

Sure there were a few songs I liked, but overall, they were the sort of band favoured by the BMW driving, bank working wanker.

Or at least they were in my mind.

However this album was different. Not only was it the first big hit on the new CD platform, it featured a song – and video – that was made for the modern music generation.

The song?

Money For Nothing.

Let’s remind ourselves of the track … and video … and guest appearance by Sting:

I loved the song.

Part of it was because it had a guitar upfront and centre but the other part was it had a super-recognisable riff that I quickly learnt to play on my Fender copy, which immediately impressed all the kids at school which meant for once – and only for a fleeting moment – I was semi-cool.

Zoom forward 30 years – THIRTY BLOODY YEARS – and I recently heard it again on a film.

At first I loved it.

The build up, Sting’s voice, the opening guitar riff … it immediately took me back to a great time of my life … and then the lyrics started.


Now look at them yo-yo’s that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and chicks for free
Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Lemme tell ya them guys ain’t dumb
Maybe get a blister on your little finger
Maybe get a blister on your thumb

We gotta install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We gotta move these refrigerators
We gotta move these color TV’s

See the little faggot with the earring and the make-up
Yeah buddy that’s his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he’s millionaire

We gotta install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We gotta move these refrigerators
We gotta move these color TV’s

I shoulda’ learned to play the guitar
I shoulda’ learned to play them drums
Look at that mama, she got it stickin’ in the camera
Man we could have some fun
And he’s up there, what’s that ? Hawaiian noises ?
Bangin’ on the bongos like a chimpanzee
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Get your money for nothin’ get your chicks for free

We gotta install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We gotta move these refrigerators
We gotta move these color TV’s, Lord

Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ get your chicks for free
Money for nothin’ get chicks for free

Look, I know lyrics don’t always have to mean stuff – look at Bohemian Rhapsody – but this is utter tripe.

It’s like they threw open a book, randomly picked out some words out, shoved them together and sang them to a backing track.

And what’s all that stuff about ‘little faggots’?

I swear to god the kids of 1985 only liked it because it had the words MTV repeated ad nauseam all the way through it.

About fifteen years ago, I decided I would try to buy any film or TV show that had made a significant impact on my life.

Some of these turned out to be as wonderful second time round – like ‘The Wonder Years‘ – but sadly, the majority turned out to reinforce I had even less taste as a kid than I do now and that’s saying something.

On the positive, it taught me 2 valuable lessons.

1. All this talk that lyrics/films/games can corrupt the young mind is bollocks.

2. As tempting as it may be to go back. Don’t. You’ll only feel totally and utterly ripped off.

So Mr Knopfler … you might be an amazing guitarist, but your lyrics are as shit as that headband you used to sport around head.

32 Comments so far
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Proving you’re at the sharp end of contemporary culture again Rob.

Comment by DH

he makes jay z and Kanye look like a couple of ad planning twats from nottingham.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hey, birkenstocks came back in fashion so maybe you have to accept I am a trend pioneer. Though I have a sneaky suspicion it’s just I’m so old, things just naturally come round again. Bugger.

On the positive. Tiswas!!!

Comment by Rob

I’m willing to bet that money for nothing still sounds less dated than one of the songs you recorded on your million selling (sorry, that’s supposed to say 10 selling) album.

Comment by DH

i went to one of his gigs once. he told me it would be fun. id enjoy myself. there would be lots of cool people there. id have a good night out. thats when i learnt never to trust that bastard again.

Comment by andy@cynic

That explains everything.

Comment by DH

Actually it’s rather good I’ll have you know. Maybe I’ll send you a copy. Now that’s a threat if I ever heard one. Ha.

Comment by Rob

He has often said that they were largely based on the actual words of a guy working in a Radioshack store. Your pals from the Crue later claimed it was one of their videos that he was watching.

In other words, it was all based on the debauched lifestyle to which you were aspiring when you were made the fateful error of recording ten year old songs rather than something more current.

Comment by John

Just like this blog.

Comment by Billy Whizz

radioshack. dire straits. motley crue. (im assuming youre talking about those fuckers doddsy). this blog. campbells dress sense. it couldnt be more 80s if we were all listening to “now thats what we call music volume 1” cassette. how fucking depressing.

Comment by andy@cynic

I had that album and it was on cassette. I think it was a double cassette so it could hold all the average songs that was on it. I’m so happy I’ve lost it. No one should have to listen to 5 star ever again.

Comment by DH

Five Star. Oh my god.

All I can remember is the song ‘System Addict’ and that one of the family members was involved in some scandal. Or maybe that was Musical Youth.

On the positive, I had nothing to do with them, their career failed all on its own.

Comment by Rob

Didn’t Knobfeeler write that song about you working at wieden?

Comment by Billy Whizz

thats almost funny. nice work.

Comment by andy@cynic

good pos

Comment by cvnadagroup2017

When that video came out it was a glimpse at the future of computer generated animation. Now it looks like one step above pacman graphics. Maybe it’s my memory, but I am surprised there wasn’t any fuss about the “faggot” reference. It could be because I lived in the UK at the time or it could be that America wasn’t so attuned to derogatory references.

Comment by George

It wasn’t censored until 2011 apparently.

Comment by John

Thanks John.

Comment by George

Googling for Googlers is my role in life.

Comment by John

“This video is not available” did it get banned? are you hiding it somewhere?

Comment by judyt54

It worked for me 5 minutes before you wrote your comment Judy. Strange. I will ask my colleagues if they know what has happened. It doesn’t work for me now either.

Comment by George


Comment by DH

Internet or corporate?

Comment by George

No one cares eitherway.

Comment by DH

Is Google disappointing again? You can buy the video on iTunes.

Comment by Bazza

It works for me! It’s a sad day when I can get it in China and you can’t get it in wherever you are but I bet it’s not China.

And Baz. Stop stirring or I’ll go on about your bloody iWatch remote control rubbish.

Comment by Rob

it may have been taken down at You Tube–or it may have to do with the fact that Im in the US…and no Im not buying it, lol

Comment by judyt54

works over there just fine…thats a dreadful video, btw, never mind the words (and it probably passed the censors because no one over the ago of 20 could understand them…), the whole thing just hurts to watch

Comment by judyt54

Amusing history lesson Rob. I’m interested to hear how you found revisiting all the films and TV shows that meant something to you as a kid.

Comment by Pete

30% wonderfulness. 70% a stain of humanity.
And my bank account.

Comment by Rob

The sweatband look is one that must never return.

Comment by Lee Hill

I disagree, I was deeply influenced by the lyrics. I am still looking for a job that will give me money for nothing. Damn’em! for getting my hopes up.

Comment by swatidagur (@swatidagur)

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