The Mistrial album found Lou Reed chasing a contemporary pop-rock sound, but the results confused the singer's long-term fans; "No Money Down" was the only track from the album to chart anywhere. Released as the record's second single, it peaked at #75 on the Australian ARIA singles chart.
This boisterous synth-rocker features cryptic Lou Reed lyrics that compare failing romance to a financial transaction.
Lou Reed's deadpan vocals are accompanied by squealing saxophone courtesy of Rick Bell. An ex member of the Michael Stanley band, Bell has also played with Peter Gabriel.
The music video, directed by Godley & Creme, features an animatronic version of Reed miming along to the song. During the final verse, "Robot Reed" starts tearing himself apart, revealing wires and parts.
The robot concept was originally intended for another video. Longtime bassist Fernando Saunders explained to Uncut magazine: "Lou decided to get Godley and Creme to do the video for 'Video Violence' with these robots. Then the label decided to change single, but Lou didn't want to waste the robots, so you had this great clever pop song with a video of this robot tearing its own face off... MTV debuted it, and then we got a call saying people were complaining that their video was making kids cry."
The third verse of "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" by Crash Test Dummies ("they shook and lurched all over the church floor...") was inspired by girl whose parents would speak in tongues at their Pentecostal service.