Origins of the Money for Nothing riff
June 3, 2005 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Was the riff in Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" given to Mark Knopfler by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, or is that just a myth?
posted by mr.marx to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
This is the first I've heard of that possibility. I don't know, but I'm going to vote myth.
posted by wsg at 1:07 PM on June 3, 2005

Just to clarify, this isn't an invitation to a guessing game.
posted by mr.marx at 1:11 PM on June 3, 2005

just to clarify, knopfler doesn't post here much.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:19 PM on June 3, 2005

I'm going on old memory of an article from one of my guitar magazines here, so take the following with a grain of salt.

As I recall the story, Knopfler wanted to emulate a real ZZ Top style guitar tone on the song, so he called up Billy Gibbons and asked about the exact guitar/amp/effects rig that Gibbons used. Gibbon's played it coy, so Knopfler had to work out how to get that sound on his own. There was no mention of Gibbons providing the actual riff.

My memory is decidedly fallible, so I may have gotten the details wrong. That's what I remember, though.
posted by tdismukes at 1:20 PM on June 3, 2005

Some cursory research confirms tdismukes's memory -- it was the guitar tone Knopfler was after, not a riff.
posted by jjg at 1:27 PM on June 3, 2005

Given the subject of the song and the video, and the popularity of ZZ-Top at the time, it makes perfect sense that Knopfler would emulate them.

That video was the shit. Hard to believe those graphics used to be amazing.
posted by bondcliff at 1:41 PM on June 3, 2005

speaking of guitar sounds, what is modest mouse using to get that sort of tubular sound, reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, on their last full album?

/thread weasel
posted by craniac at 2:46 PM on June 3, 2005

Speaking as someone who has learned the song in question--it's not what I think of as a riff (which would be one very grabbing phrase repeated and repeated, like that ta-DA-da-ta-DA / / ta-DA-da-ta-DA / / Muddy Waters plays over and over in Young Man Blues 'til your eyeballs start bouncing up and down in time with it.) The thing in Money For Nothing is played as variations on a theme, varied and re-varied and not repeated identically.
posted by jfuller at 3:31 PM on June 3, 2005

It's a '58 burst Paul through a cranked plexi Marshall, by the way. Nothing fancy at all.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:29 AM on June 6, 2005

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