“Money for Nothing”: a raw and grating title
Dire Straits’ melodic rock sophistication might make you forget it, but “Money for Nothing” is first and foremost a text song. Written in the first person, it immerses us in the shoes of an employee of an electrical appliance store in the process of setting up a partner in the equipment to sell when it falls, in front of the televisions shown on shelves, in clips. aired on MTV. The narrator then launches into a long diatribe against the rockstars of the time, lazy people who can’t do a real job, who are content to get “money for doing nothing”. Aligning with the clichés that we sometimes hear about artists in general, the lyrics of “Money for Nothing” are ready to be raw or even vulgar under the sharp pen of the leader of Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler. The inspiration for the title did not come from far because, as the singer and guitarist confessed in 2000, this experience really happened to him in a store in New York in the 80s. That day, Knopfler asked the employee of lending him a pen to write down some of his expressions, which he eventually incorporated into song lyrics!
Sting, a guest of honor
‘Money for Nothing’ was formed in late 1984, when Dire Straits flew to the Caribbean island of Montserrat, where they recorded what would become their most famous album, ‘Brothers in Arms’. There, the group crosses a Sting, then vacations on the island. Inspired by the meeting, Knopfler immediately remembered the commercials that Sting shot for The Police for the MTV channel with the slogan “I Want my MTV”. Then he decided to invite Sting to the studio so that, in addition to providing some backing vocals for the song, he would re-record the phrase “I Want my MTV” to the tune of one of the famous hit the Police, “Don’t Stand. So Come Close to Me”. This passage would be the opening of “Money for Nothing” and would give rise to a small legal dispute that would push the group, under pressure from Sting’s representatives, to credit the latter as co-author of the song.
“Money for Nothing”, a pioneering global hit for Dire Straits
Besides the shortened radio versions, there were two versions of “Money for Nothing” when “Brothers in Arms” hit stores on May 13, 1985. The first was a 33 rpm version for the vinyl medium, which lasted seven minutes and four seconds. The second lasts for eight minutes and twenty-two seconds and accompanies the CD version of the album, a format that is new since its launch almost three years ago. “Brothers in Arms” will be the first real global success of an album in CD format, becoming the first record to exceed one million sales in this format. A testament to Dire Straits’ pioneering nature, the clip for “Money for Nothing” also remains notable for being one of the first to feature computer-generated imagery. “Money for Nothing” climbed to the top of the charts in England and the United States. Consecrated by the Grammy Award for the best rock performance at the 1986 Grammy Awards, it allowed the album to become one of the biggest successes of the decade and even in history with over 30 million albums sold!