Few things take me back to my childhood as quickly as Mark Knopfler’s opening riff to Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing.”
(except possibly the opening to Sweet Child O’Mine)
That song and video, IMO, epitomize MTV in the eighties. Maybe the song wasn’t the greatest of all time or even the decade, but it had a lot going for it. How awesome is a song poking fun at MTV but also creating a slogan that become THE tagline for the network: “I want my MTV!”
It was a HOT video. Remember when MTV actually played music videos all day long. For you young folk, that’s before reality TV and cell phones. It was great. They had “Yo! MTV Raps!” and “Headbangers Ball” to focus on certain genre of music but it was all videos all day!!
Back then, people got excited about the latest video from Michael Jackson or whomever. This was one of the big ones.
Mainly, there were the computer generated characters. The blue-collar delivery guys who were the narrators of the song. Pretty cool technology for its day.
Other great things about the song include:
The song referred to MTV. It was these Joe Schmoes making fun of rock and rollers. A perfect song/video for the boom of MTV.
Lyrics such as……
“Money for Nothing and your chicks for free”
“maybe get a blister on your little finger, maybe get a blister on your thumb.”
“bangin on the bongos like a chimpanzee”
“THAT AIN’T WORKIN!!! That’s the way you do it!”
Then there’s the fact that it was Sting singing, “I want my…I want my….I want my MTV” which made it even cooler. He already had some cool Police videos.
It was a perfect storm for MTV. One of the top videos of that decade and a summary of all that was exciting for an 80s kid.