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Song Stories

“Blank Generation”

Richard Hell | 1977

When Richard Hell came up with verses for "Blank Generation," he certainly didn’t know he was creating a slogan and an anthem for a movement, nor did he bank on the Sex Pistols nicking his idea for their own "Pretty Vacant." Hell says he was "pretty p---ed off” when he first heard the Pistols song, pointing the finger at the punk provocateurs' manager and mastermind: “Malcolm MacLaren had stolen that whole attitude from 'Blank Generation.' But ideas are free property," Hell said. "I stole s---, too." Good thing he owned up to his own theft, as much of "Blank Generation" bears a more-than-coincidental resemblance to "The Beat Generation," a 1959 novelty single recorded by poet Rod McKuen.

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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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