Walk of Life (Dire Straits song)

Walk of Life (Dire Straits song)
"Walk of Life"
Single by Dire Straits
from the album Brothers in Arms
B-side One World
Two Young Lovers (live)
Released November 29, 1985
Recorded December 1984
Genre Country rock, New Wave
Length 4:12
Label Vertigo (United Kingdom), Warner Bros. Records (United States)
Writer(s) Mark Knopfler
Dire Straits singles chronology
"Brothers in Arms"
"Walk of Life"
"Your Latest Trick"

"Walk of Life" is a 1985 song by the British rock band Dire Straits. It appeared on their best-selling album Brothers in Arms. It subsequently appeared on their live album On the Night. It was released as a single in November 1985 but had first been available as the b-side of "So Far Away" released in advance of Brothers in Arms. The track peaked at number 7 in the US charts and was their biggest commercial hit in the UK, peaking at number 2. The track also appeared on the 2005 compilation The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations.



The song was nearly excluded from the album when the co-producer Neil Dorfsman voted against its inclusion, but the rest of the band out-voted him.

A simple rock 'n' roll rhythm is used, with chord changes limited to I, IV and V chords. The long introduction has become iconic in some circles, with an instantly recognisable melody played on a synthesiser organ patch. The singer mentioned in the lyrics is said to perform "down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay," a reference to busking in the subway. The songs he plays are oldies, including "I Got a Woman", "Be-Bop-A-Lula", "What'd I Say", and "Mack the Knife". He also plays talking blues.

Live performances of the song have often been concluded with an elaborate pedal steel solo by guest performer Paul Franklin.[1]

"Walk of Life" was the song played during the Space Shuttle Discovery crew wake-up call on STS-114 Flight Day 7.

The walk of life was also the name of the charity walk from London to Khartoum 1985-1986, to raise money for famine relief led by John Abbey. The band donated Brothers in Arms Gold disc in recognition and support of the expedition.

The introduction to the song was also used for a time as the theme music for Test Match Special cricket in the United Kingdom.

When the song was originally released, the band explained that a "walk of life" in the context of this song is a traditional journey taken by a storyteller in the countryside, in which he went from town to town telling stories, in the days before radio, television, and recording.[citation needed]

In 2010, the song was included on the disc of the video game Rock Band 3.


Having itself been used as a flip side for the European version of the "So Far Away" single, "Walk of Life" had many different b-sides across different formats of release in different territories. The two songs most commonly used were a live version of "Two Young Lovers", which had previously appeared on the 1983 EP ExtendedancEPlay and "One World", the eighth track from Brothers in Arms. A double Vinyl released in the UK in 1985 featured the band's 1978 breakthrough Top 10 single "Sultans of Swing", as well as live versions of "Two Young Lovers" and the rare song "Eastbound Train", one of the first tracks that Dire Straits recorded as a band in demo format but never appeared on an album or as a single.

Music video

The music video for the song shown in the UK video features a busker or street musician wearing the same shirt as Mark Knopfler intercut with the band performing on a stage, while the U.S. features various sports bloopers intercut with footage of the band performing the song on a stage.

Track listings

7" Single

  1. Walk Of Life 4:07
  2. One World 3:36

12" Single

  1. Walk Of Life 4:07
  2. Why Worry (Instrumental) 3:56
  3. One World 3:36


Chart (1985/86) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 7
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 6
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 4
Canadian Singles Chart 5
UK Singles Chart 2
Irish Singles Chart 1
German Singles Chart 15 [2]
Austrian Singles Chart 18[3]
Swiss Singles Chart 24[4]
Dutch Top 40 17
Australia Kent Music Report 11
New Zealand Singles Chart 3
Preceded by
"The Sun Always Shines on T.V." by A-ha
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
January 25, 1986 – January 30, 1986
Succeeded by
"Borderline" by Madonna

Cover versions

In 1986, The Shadows did an instrumental version on the album Moonlight Shadows.

In 2007, alternative country artist Shooter Jennings recorded a cover version, included on his album The Wolf. The single was the lead-off single to the album, however, the song failed to enter the Hot Country Songs charts.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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