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Song Stories

“Ambling Alp”

Yeasayer | 2009

The "Ambling Alp" was the nickname of the six-and-a-half-foot-tall Primo Carnera. Though the song is named after the Italian-born 1930s heavyweight champion, Yeasayer are actually paying tribute to boxing legend Joe Louis with this first-person psychedelic dance-rock tune. “I was always interested in writing a song that had boxing mythology in it,” Yeasayer’s Chris Keating said. “It’s pretty fascinating: There were so many amazing characters, and it was so closely entwined with 20th century history.” Yeaseyer also invokes German champ Max Schmeling and hints at the historical significance placed on the historic bouts between the Nazi-era boxer and the African-American Louis.

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

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