A ROCK classic penned by one of the North East’s biggest stars has been banned in Canada, 26 years after it was first released.
The Dire Straits hit Money For Nothing, written in 1985 by North East songwriter Mark Knopfler, has been banned from Canadian radio.
The Grammy award-winning song was ruled too offensive for the airwaves because it contains the word faggot, and can no longer be played in its original form.
Any station that wants to play the song will have to edit it or disguise the word, according to a ruling by the Canadian Broadcasts Standards Council.
The decision came after a listener complained that the unedited version of the song, which mentions the word three times, was “extremely offensive” to gay, lesbian and bisexual people.
The second verse of the song says: “The little faggot with the earring and the makeup. Yeah buddy, that’s his own hair. That little faggot’s got his own jet airplane. That little faggot he’s a millionaire.”
The council concluded that the term, when used to describe a homosexual man, is a word “that even if entirely or marginally acceptable in earlier days is no longer so. The societal values at issue a quarter century later have shifted and the broadcast of the song in 2010 must reflect those values, rather than those of 1985.”
Money For Nothing is penned from the perspective of a working class man watching music videos and commenting on what he sees. Knopfler, who was born in Glasgow but grew up in Blyth, Northumberland, told Michael Parkinson in 2000 he was inspired by stopping at an appliance store in New York which had a wall of TVs all tuned to MTV.
A man dressed in a baseball cap, work boots, and a checkered shirt, who was delivering boxes, stood next to him to watch the screens. He remembered the man coming out with classic lines such as “What are those, Hawaiian noises?” and “That ain’t workin’”.
Knopfler asked for a pen and eventually put the words to music. Wallsend-born Sting was visiting the band’s studio during the recording, and was invited to add some background vocals.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine around the time the song was released, Knopfler said he had received an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London, but that the character narrating the song was meant to be an ignorant person who only saw things in terms of money.
Money for Nothing, which first appeared on the album Brothers in Arms, became the band’s most successful single and won them a Grammy award.