Lead singer Mark Knopfler was in a department store and when it was in the TV room, a blue-collar hardhat salesman was watching a lot of the monitors and saw a rock video playing. The...
(I want my MTV)

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

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?
You 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 gotta install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We gotta move these refrigerators
We gotta move these color TV's

Listen here, now that ain't workin' that's the way to 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' and the chicks for free
Get your money for nothin' and chicks for free
Money for nothin' and the chicks for free (I want my, I want my MTV)
Money for nothin' and the chicks for free (I want my, I want my MTV)


Lyrics submitted by kevin, edited by DaneYoussef

"Money for Nothing" as written by Gordon Sumner Mark Knopfler

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Money For Nothing song meanings
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  • +5
    General Commentmadnesslover_89 you are WAY off, and you should be really embarrassed to be so clueless. And JustChillen was bang on. You should think twice before you make posts on the internet because they are really, completely worthless.

    Anyone who can read and understand words, should know what this song is about. It isn't cryptic whatsoever. You can read interviews to find out exactly what the song is about, but you shouldn't even need to with this song. It's quite clear the singer is mocking a delivery guy whose conversation he heard/overheard. The delivery guy is clearly some bonehead talking about faggots on MTV owning their own planes etc... and getting money for nothin' and then bitching about his own job having to install kitchens etc. If the musicians he was talking about were really getting money for nothing, then the delivery guy would be doing it too, but he isn't because he can't so instead he just insults them because he is jealous. Whether it has depth is completely subjective isn't it? But I would say it has as much depth as most songs, perhaps more. But either way, in terms of lyric writing it is pretty great considering it is so up front, and it is using the words of someone he overheard talking, which speaks volumes about the guy who clearly seems to be the stereotypical blue collar narrow minded dumbass homophobe.

    There is no need to try to explain or justify the word faggot in the song. The singer isn't calling anyone a faggot, he is using the words of the idiot who he is writing about, so the use of the word faggot speaks for itself. People are MEANT to find it offensive, because the guy IS an offensive idiot, that's the whole of the entire song.

    As for the intro, it's extremely important. It is extremely musical, and your opinion of it not being musical is purely because you don't understand it or appreciate it. That is YOUR problem, and has nothing to do with the song itself. Perhaps people are too busy today, or perhaps everyone has ADD now.... but the intro sets the scene of the song. It's dreamy and tuneful and has emotional chords, and it's also high tech sounding with synthesisers and electronic kinds of noises which is partly what the song is about - the modern age, and modern music on the then new modern format - MTV. In the 1980's, this was as modern sounding as it got, and it was an amazing build up which bursts into that classic guitar riff which one of the best starts of any song ever. I really pity you for not being able to appreciate that.
    ilikethepixieson August 14, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIf you read the inner sleeve that comes with the Best Of album it tells you this song is about a shop owner bitching about how rock stars have it so easy(aside from finger blisters).

    That's basically it.
    crusadeson January 15, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThe story my mum told me about this song it that one of the dudes from dire straits was at an electrical appliance store right. And then one of Dire straits songs came on the TV at the store, n the delivery guys at the store were saying stuff like “That ain't workin' that's the way you do it
    Money for nothin' and chicks for free” The guy just went home n wrote the song after hearin what these delivery dudes had said.pretty much all the lyrics of the song were said by the delivery guys. The song made a lot more sense to me after hearing that story.
    rip_her_to_shredson June 10, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWith due respect to all the other posters here, one cannot ignore the fact that the band is staking a claim as a genuine band, truer to the roots of rock than the bands being mocked, in the words of the movers. While I do not recall the exact order of bands becoming big, I do remember that the music industry was being overrun at the time by performers with big hair, theatrical presentation, and music that often was lacking.

    Dire Straits in this song, even if speaking through some ignorant movers, are staking a claim to the blue collar music fans by showing how the glam and theatrics do not speak to real fans. Dire Straits is separating themselves from the pop acts of the time. If you watch the video, the scenes of the band playing in the beginning, with the radical colorizing day-glow bright special effects on the base black and white film of the band, seem to mock the need to be something more than a solid band with a good sound to get MTV airplay.

    Those are my thoughts on the song. Oh, and I agree that the song has a sound that was cutting edge at the time and has retained its edge two decades later.
    packfanon October 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYep, better check your facts again, it's spelled STRAITS. I know that and I don't even listen to them.
    xkylexon July 21, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is pretty cool. unique.
    iluvFMon August 15, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti read some books on montley crue and read in one of them where nikki sixx said that this song was about them. just an idea?
    frazee0907on February 12, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI am actually one of the people quoted in the song. Mark Knopfler did write the song while he was in the store. He wrote it in the furniture department of Dillard's Department Store at McCain Mall in North Little Rock, Arkansas of all places. He overheard me griping at an employee that I supervised. He sat at a dining room table that was on display and wrote the song.

    Joe was the other guy quoted. We were getting ready to move some refrigerators and store some color televisions behind them. In fact, the video pretty accurately depicts the electronics/appliance department in that store as it was then before it was remodeled. In fact, the tile floor was black and white as in the video and there was a wall of televisions in the back part of the electronics department.

    I had gone over the list of things we needed to accomplish while we were on the way out to the electronics department. Joe was a little difficult to motivate. He was griping about having to work. I made the comment that I should have learned to play the guitar like the guy that was playing on MTV which was on the televisions in the department. As Joe continued to gripe about working, I asked him if he thought you got money for nothing and the check's for free? At that point Mark Knopfler politely interrupted me and asked, "Did you say the Chicks are free?" I corrected him and told him the check's for free. My southern accent and his foreign accent probably made it difficult for him to distinguish that subtle difference at first. He said "The chicks for free would work better." I looked at him a little strange and he said, "Oh, I am a song writer and I was thinking about some lyrics for a song." He quickly asked a sales lady from the furniture department for a piece of paper and pen. He wrote our comments down and quoted it accurately with the exception of the checks/chicks change for artistic expression.

    He then asked me if I owned the copyright to those comments. He tried to talk legalities with me but I told him (not knowing at the time who he was) to use it and make a bunch of money and blew it off as a songwriter wannabe. Little did I know that it would become one of the most popular songs of the decade if not of the rock era.

    The reference to the Hawaiian noises was from my comments about a nature show that was on one of the televisions that happened to be tuned to a nature program. There was also a program about a musician playing the bongos and hence the reference to the guy beating on the bongos like a chimpanzee.

    The sales lady was concerned that this guy was writing down all our comments and came and told me. I told her I was not concerned about it.

    I was surprised when I saw it on MTV for the first time. I then realized all the comments were quotes of Joe and myself.
    KenLon December 14, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentO.K., guys. Time for your friendly neighborhood librarian to wade in here. "Strait" means a narrow or tight passage, such as the "Straits of Magellan". When used in "dire straits" it means squeezed (usually financially) to the point of distress. This is not to say that a certain phonetic pun isn't meant here, though I don't know that for a fact. Just thought I'd clear things up a bit.
    groupingon September 26, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentdire straits though, means bad things, or chaos
    gueveraliveson March 08, 2003   Link

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