Song Lyric Sunday — Recognizable Intros

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt, Clive, from Take It Easy, suggested to Jim Adams the theme of songs with recognizable intro. And for a certain generation of bloggers, is there any more recognizable song introduction than the plaintive, repetitive cry, “I want my MTV”?

“Money for Nothing” was a song by British rock band Dire Straits. It was written by Mark Knopfler and Sting and it was the second track on their fifth studio album, Brothers in Arms. The song was released as the album’s second single at the end of June 1985.

It was Dire Straits’ most commercially successful single, peaking at number 1 for three weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number 4 in the band’s native UK. In July 1985, the month following its release, Dire Straits and Sting performed the song at Live Aid (the video above). At the 28th Annual Grammy Awards in 1986, “Money for Nothing” won Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year as well. At the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, the music video received 11 nominations, winning Video of the Year and Best Group Video.

“Money for Nothing” is about rock star excess and the easy life it brings compared with “real” work. Knopfler wrote it after overhearing delivery men in a New York department store complain about their jobs while watching MTV. He wrote the song in the store sitting at a kitchen display they had set up. Many of the lyrics were things they actually said.

Sting sings on this and helped write it (he and Knopfler are the credited writers). That’s him at the beginning singing “I want my MTV.” Sting did not want a songwriting credit, but his record company did because they would have earned royalties from it.

The music video for the song (see below) features early 3D computer animation illustrating the lyrics. The video was one of the first uses of computer-animated human characters and was groundbreaking at the time of its release.

Here are the lyrics to Money for Nothing.

(I want my, I want my MTV)
(I want my, I want my MTV)
(I want my, I want my MTV)
(I want my, I want my MTV)

Huh, now look at them yo-yos, that's the way you do it
You play that guitar on the MTV
That ain't workin', that's the way you do it
Money for nothin' and your 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 got to install microwave ovens, custom kitchen deliveries
We got to move these refrigerators, we got to move these color TVs, ow

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 a millionaire

We got to install microwave ovens, custom kitchen deliveries
We got to move these refrigerators, we got to move these color TVs

Huh

We got to install microwave ovens, custom kitchen deliveries
We got to move these refrigerators, we got to move these color TVs
Looky here, look out

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

And he's up there, what's that?
Hawaiian noises?
He's bangin' on the bongos like a chimpanzee
Oh, that ain't workin', that's the way you do it
Get your money for nothin', get your chicks for free

We got to install microwave ovens, custom kitchen deliveries
We got to move these refrigerators, we got to move these color TVs

Ow, ow ow ow

Listen here
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' and your chicks for free
Money for nothin', chicks for free
Get your money for nothin' and your chicks for free
Ooh, that money for nothin', chicks for free
Get your money for nothin', chicks for free
Money for nothin' (all that money for nothing), chicks for free
Get your money for nothin', get your chicks for free (ow)
Get your money for nothin' and the chicks for free
Get your money for nothin' and the chicks for free (what's that?)

Look at that, look at that
Get your money for nothin' (I want my, I want my)
And the chicks for free (I want my MTV)
Money for nothin', chicks for free (I want my, I want my, I want my MTV)
Get your money for nothin' (I want my, I want my)
And the chicks for free (I want my MTV)
Get your money for nothin' (I want my, I want my)
And the chicks for free (I want my MTV)
Easy, easy money for nothin' (I want my, I want my)
Easy, easy chicks for free (I want my MTV)
Easy, easy money for nothin' (I want my, I want my)
Chicks for free (I want my MTV)
That ain't workin'

Money for nothing, chicks for free
Money for nothing, chicks for free

15 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Recognizable Intros

  1. glenmckenzie(justabitfurther) November 20, 2022 / 3:26 am

    Great example. You only need to hear the first couple of notes and you know the song immediately. There was a post on Twitter a few days ago asking for the most recognizable opening lyrics or riffs to a song. “Money For Nothing” showed up a fair bit as people’s first choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ghostmmnc November 20, 2022 / 6:30 am

    Ahh back when MTV was good and played all the songs! Excellent choice. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. newepicauthor November 20, 2022 / 7:50 am

    Great choice, Fandango as there is no denying what song this is from just hearing the intro. I love the Sting live aide version, but i am more familiar with the 3D computer animation one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marleen November 20, 2022 / 9:45 am

    Just ran across this, from songfacts[dot]com:

    Money For Nothing by Dire Straits

    This was the first video played on MTV Europe. The network went on the air August 1, 1987, six years after MTV in the US. The album version runs 8:26 …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. J-Dub November 20, 2022 / 12:18 pm

    Definitely a favorite of mine! Nice to hear it again today.

    Liked by 1 person

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