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Song Stories

“Biko”

Peter Gabriel | 1980

In 1977, Stephen Biko, an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa, was seized at a roadblock and taken to a police station, where he was interrogated several days. On September 12th, he died from head injuries, the result of police brutality. Biko's death would draw worldwide attention to the brutality of apartheid, with Gabriel's dirge bringing South Africa's injustices to the younger generation. "I was uncertain about getting engaged in a political song," Gabriel told Rolling Stone. "Because I'd never directly taken on an issue in that way. I just tried some ideas, and I felt the spine tingling."

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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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