Song Stories

“Up on Cripple Creek”

The Band | 1969

Levon Helm took the lead vocal on the Robbie Robertson song, "Up on Cripple Creek," though the inspiration to sing about Cripple Creek wasn't new at the time he did it. "Cripple Creek" as a song subject has a folk history; fellow Canadian artist Buffy Sainte Marie had her own version in 1964, featuring a springing mouth-bow sound too. But the Band never claimed to have received inspiration from her or anywhere else for their Top 25 hit. "Garth found that Jew's harp sound by running his clavinet through a wah wah pedal," wrote Helm in This Wheel's on Fire, his memoir of his life with the Band.

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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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