The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Featured Song/Artist
"Money for Nothing"
Dire Straits

Written by Mark Knopfler & Sting
Brothers in Arms (Vertigo, 1985)


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 colour TV's

See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup
Yeah buddy that's his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he's a millionaire

We gotta install microwave ovens
 Custom kitchens deliveries
We gotta move these refrigerators
We gotta move these colour 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 bongoes 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 colour 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' and your chicks for free
Money for nothin' and chicks for free

Formed in South London in 1977, Dire Straits consisted of Mark Knopfler (b. 8.12.49, Glasgow, Scotland; guitar, vocals), Mark's brother David (b. 12.27.52, Glasgow, Scotland; guitar), John Illsley (6.24.49, Leicester; bass) and Pick Withers (b. 4.4.48) on drums. Initially called the Cafe Racers, they changed their name to Dire Straits at the suggestion of a friend who was aware of their desperate financial situation. Mark Knopfler -- English Literature graduate, journalist and part-time teacher -- was also a superb songwriter, and the group scraped together enough money to pay for a five-track demo recorded at London's Pathway Studios. BBC Radio London DJ Charlie Gillett played the tape on his Honky Tonk Show and before long Dire Straits had signed with Vertigo Records. Their debut album featured the UK Top Ten hit "Sultans of Swing" and, strongly promoted by Warner Bros. in the U.S., reached the #2 spot on Billboard's album chart. Their follow-up album, Communique, reached US#11 and was the first album to enter the German chart at # 1.
Joined by Alan Clark (b.3. 5.52, Durham) on keyboards, and with Terry Williams replacing Withers on drums, the band prospered in the early Eighties with several more well-received albums. But it was 1985's Brothers in Arms that became their most commercially successful effort. The album entered the UK chart at # 1 and remained there for three weeks, eventually selling over three million copies in the UK alone, making it Britain's all-time bestselling album. It reached # 1 in the US in August and stayed on top for nine weeks. It also topped the charts in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Turkey and a half-dozen other countries. The band launched a 200-date world tour that made it one of the hottest live acts of the year. The success of Brothers in Arms was due largely to the song "Money For Nothing," the band's first American # 1 single. (The video for the song was the first to be aired on MTV Europe on its launch date of 8.11.87.) Mark Knopfler was inspired to write the song's lyrics after listening to a man's caustic comments about the acts he'd seen on MTV. The song stirred some controversy due to the use of the word "faggot," and Warner Bros. issued edited versions that deleted the reference. The Police's Sting was on vacation in Montserrat when Dire Straits arrived there to record Brothers in Arm, and he was prevailed upon to add backup vocals;, since his publishing company insisted on a share of the profits, Sting also got co-writing credit. Following the world tour, Dire Straits took a long hiatus, and didn't get back together until 1990, when they recorded On Every Street. In the 1990s they were unable to duplicate the success they had enjoyed in the Eighties.

Among the many awards won by Dire Straits in the 1980s were: Best British Album, 6th Annual BRIT Awards, 1987 (Brother in Arms); Best Video and Best Group Video, 3rd Annual MTV Video Music Awards, 1986 ("Money For Nothing"); Best British Group, 2nd Annual BRIT Awards, 1983 and 5th Annual BRIT Awards, 1986.


 "Take On Me"
a-ha

Written by Pal Waaktaar, Mags Furuholmen, Morten Harket
Hunting High And Low (Warner Bros., 1985)


We're talking away
I don't know what I'm to say
I'll say it anyway
Today's another day to find you
Shying away
I'll be coming for your love, okay?

Take on me
Take me on
I'll be gone
In a day or two

So needless to say
I'm odds and ends, but that's me
Stumbling away
Slowly learning that life is okay
Say after me
It's no better to be safe than sorry

Take on me
Take me on
I'll be gone
In a day or two

Oh the things that you say
Is it life or just to play
My worries away
You're all the things I've got to remember
You're shying away
I'll be coming for you anyway

Take on me
Take me on
I'll be gone
In a day or two

Mags Furuholmen (b. 11.1.62, Oslo, Norway) and Pal Waaktaar (b. Pat Garnst, 9.6.61, Oslo) formed the band Spider Empire in 1977 after playing together for years, with Furuholmen on the keyboards and Waaktaar on guitar. Two years later, and joined by drummer Oystein Jevanord and bassist Viggo Bondi, they were the Bridges, releasing their first album (Fakkeltog, or Torchlight Procession) on their own label. In 1980 Furuholmen and Waaktaar made the acquaintance of vocalist Morten Harket, who had fronted for the soul group Souldier Blue and the trio formed a-ha. As 1983 opened, the three relocated to London and made a number of demos, one of which came to the attention of Rendezvous Studios manager John Ratcliff, who introduced a-ha to Terry Slater. Slater became their manager, and arranged a showcase audition for record companies. By the end of the year the band had signed with Warner Bros. In 1984 the single "Take On Me" was released in Britain, but sold a paltry 300 units. The band recut the single and re--released it, but with no better luck. Dejected, the trio returned home to Oslo to ponder their future.
 In July 1985 Warner spent $100,000 on a ground-breaking, partially-animated video for "Take On Me" created by Mike Patterson and Candice Reckinger, and directed by Steve Barron. A few months later the single was topping the US chart and reached UK# 2. The album Hunting High And Low (1986) soared to UK# 2 and US# 15, supported by a 120-date worldwide tour. At the Third Annual MTV Awards in 1986, the "Take On Me" video won six trophies, including Best Direction, Best New Artist Video and Viewers' Choice. The band's sophomore album, Scoundrel Days debuted at UK# 2 but fared less well in the US, peaking at # 74. In 1987, a-ha had a pair of Top Ten hits in the UK, "Cry Wolf" and the theme for the James Bond film The Living Daylights. The following year, Stay On These Roads peaked at UK# 2 and the title track made it to # 5 on the UK singles chart. By the end of the Eighties, a-ha could boast of 13 consecutive Top-30 hits in the UK. But the band could not seem to duplicate that success in the US. The early '90s found a-ha continuing to meet with success in Europe, yet by mid-decade the members were embarking on individual efforts. In 1998, a-ha announced a formal reunion and performed its first live performance in four years at the Fifth Annual Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo. (December, 1998).


 "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Written by John Hooker & Alan Merrill
I Love Rock 'n' Roll (Boardwalk, 1981)


I saw him dancin' there by the record machine
I knew he musta been about seventeen
The beat was goin' strong
Playin' my favorite song
An' I could tell it wouldn't be long
Till he was with me, yeah me, singin'

I love rock n' roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby
I love rock n' roll
So come an' take your time an' dance with me

He smiled so I got up and asked for his name
That don't matter, he said,
'Cause it's all the same
Said can I take you home where we can be alone
An' next we were movin' on
He was with me, yeah me
Next we were movin' on
He was with me, yeah me, singin'

I love rock n' roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby
I love rock n' roll
So come an' take your time an' dance with me

Said can I take you home where we can be alone
An we'll be movin' on
An' singin' that same old song
Yeah with me, singin'

I love rock n' roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby
I love rock n' roll
So come an' take your time an' dance with me

Born 9.22.60 in Philadelphia and relocated to Los Angeles at the age of twelve, Joan Jett played guitar with an all-girl band called the Runaways in the late Seventies. The Runaways consisted of five teenage girls based in Southern California, and though they failed to win a big following in the United States, the band met with great success in Japan. While touring England, Jett saw the Arrows perform "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" on their television series; she called songwriter John Hooker, a member of the Arrows who co-wrote the song with fellow member Alan Merrill, and asked if the Runaways could record the tune. Hooker agreed, but Jett couldn't get the other Runaways to go along. After the band broke up, Jett recorded the song with ex-Sex Pistols-turned-producers Steve Jones and Paul Cook. It was released in Holland as a "B" side. Jett went on to appear in We're All Crazy Now, a film based on the career of the Runaways. She later formed the Blackhearts with lead guitarist Ricky Byrd, bass player Gary Ryan and drummer Lee Crystal and toured Europe extensively. When Jett returned to the United States, Hooker brought producer Roy Thomas Baker to a Blackhearts concert on Staten Island; Baker liked the band but didn't want to produce an entire album. That task fell to manager Kenny Laguna. Jett recorded a self-titled solo album in 1980; it was released in Europe on the Ariola label but was rejected by over twenty major and minor labels in the U.S., forcing Joan and Laguna to release it on their own Blackheart label. Limited resources made it impossible for them to keep up with demand; fortunately, Neil Bogart re-released the album, now titled Bad Reputation, on his Boardwalk label. Jett then re-recorded "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" for her second album. Radio stations were at first reluctant to play the song -- pop stations thought it was too punk while new wave stations thought it was too rock. But incessant listeners' requests forced the song onto the radio, and it soared to the # 1 spot on Billboard's Hot100 in March 1982 -- remaining there for seven weeks. A second track from the album, "Crimson And Clover" was another Top 10 hit. With Bogart's death, Jett moved on to MCA and then Columbia, releasing four more albums in the 1980s. Jett also co-starred with Michael J. Fox in the film Light of Day.