Walk Of Life

Album: Brothers In Arms (1985)
Charted: 2 7
  • Mark Knopfler wrote this song to celebrate the street buskers of London, hence the references to "Be-Bop-a-Lula" and "What'd I Say," two standards that might be part of a singer's repertoire in the mid-'80s.
  • The music video shown in America took a different approach: it showed sports bloopers. Stephen R. Johnson, a recent graduate of USC Film School, was the director. It was Mark Knopfler's idea to put sports in it, which was intercut with live footage. Knopfler's other directive was to avoid shooting him from the side to avoid the full effect of his nose.

    This video did very well on MTV, but it was not the original. The first version of the clip, which was shown outside the US, was more true to the song, with footage of a busker in a subway (or as they call it in England, the tube). The sports-themed video was specifically aimed at American audiences, with footage of American teams.
  • This was the fourth single released from Brothers In Arms. It benefited from a catchy keyboard sound (played by Alan Clark) and from the album's second single, "Money For Nothing," which established the band on MTV and on Top 40 radio in America.
  • Before the lyrics kick in, Mark Knopfler does a few "who-hoo"s, which help create a whimsical vibe. When he spoke with the BBC in 1989, he expressed some woo remorse. "There's too many 'woos' at the beginning of 'Walk of Life,'" he said. "I heard it on the radio the other day and thought, Oh my God! What was I doing that for?"
  • This song opens the first episode of the 2017 TV series Young Sheldon, a spinoff of The Big Bang Theory. The series is set in the '80s, congruent with the release of this song.

Comments: 25

  • John Elksbergg from LondonWell known to be about Scots musician Roddy Frame, who Knopfler produced (Aztec Camera) around this time. "Yeah, the boy can play..." Look at what Knopfler said about him at the time and check out the fact that he was at the VERY same time producing Frame's album (get ready for it, drum roll) KNIFE, of which the single is also called "Knife".
  • Pam from CaAmericans also don't know what a busker is: a street performer.
  • Evan from Pittsburgh, PaI agree with Dave from Baltimore, though I never made the Cavern Club connection. But buskers though there may have been, there's no way any rock stars from this era escaped the influence of the Beatles.
  • Ed from UsaThe original UK version of the video did not show sports bloopers. Instead the video showed scenes of a busker with a guitar and amp busking in a subway pedestrian and bicycle tunnel. The busker wears the same shirt that Mark Knopfler wears on stage during the concert footage.
  • Ed from UsaPerhaps Mark Knopfler was a busker in his early days of music. The original UK version of the video did not show sports bloopers. Instead the video showed scenes of a busker with a guitar and amp busking in a subway pedestrian and bicycle tunnel. The busker wears the same shirt that Mark Knopfler wears on stage during the concert footage. The sports bloopers were only dubbed over the subway busker footage for the US version of the music video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qTHn_sxrN0
  • Camille from Toronto, OhMy fav tune of Dire Straits. When I sing along, it becomes my own little anthem:
    And after all the violence & double talk, there's just a song about the trouble and the strife
    You do the walk. You do the walk of life. Yeah, you do the walk of life!
    The instrumentation makes this song stand out. Mark Knopfler's sings this to perfection.
  • Glenn from Ventura, CaHere comes Johnny telling the story: hand me down my walking shoes" seems to refer to the gospel, shod with the gospel of peace. Here comes jhonny with the power and the glory, the power of The Holy Spirit, The Glory of God given Through Christ, 'black feet, talkin' blues, Christ said when you walk through this world your feet get dirty. Yahshua washes the disciples feet. Sort of sad sometimes the things we get into. 'Black feet talkin' blues. But God has provided personally for our reconciliation. From Gospel to blues.
    After all the violence and double talk: after all the trouble and the strife. Some of those British guys (some one called him Scottish) carried guns. Very ironic for a pacifist.
  • David from Youngstown, OhFred,
    I've got a woman is a reference to I've Got a Woman, the Ray Charles song. How much more obvious do you want the band to be?
  • Dan from Catonsville, MdOften, in live performances, Mark Knopfler would sing the line "He do the song about the knife" as "He do the song about the six blade knife." Six Blade Knife is track #4 on the album Dire Straits. You can hear him do this on the albums "On the Night" and in the live version on the "Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of the Dire Straits.
  • Dave from Baltimore, MdI believe the song might be about John Lennon because of the verse: "Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies, Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say,
    Here comes Johnny singing I Gotta Woman,
    Down in the tunnel, trying to make it pay." Those were songs the Beatles performed when they were first starting out. "Down in the tunnel" could also be a reference to the Cavern Club in Liverpool, which was located underground in an old cellar. It's an excellent song!
  • Drew from B\'ham, AlI didn't know "I Got a Woman" was a rock-&-roll hit by Ray Charles. I assumed it was a reference to Roy Orbison's "Mean Woman Blues". Anyway, I entirely agree that this is reminiscent of the Golden Oldies, which stuck tightly close to the way rock-&-roll was designed to be at its origin. "Dire Straits" even sounds to me like an early '60s band logo. There may be somewhere in the song a reference to "You Can't Sit Down" by the Dovells. It would describe this song perfectly!
  • Anthony from Detroit, MiI believe Fred from Laurel, MD is pretty much on the money with all of his observations and speculation. Two notes: "What'd I Say" and "I Got a Woman" were original hits by Ray Charles. This song is clearly a tribute to the enduring popularity of early Blues, R&B and Rock & Roll produced, for the most part, by Black American artists. Yet, it comes across primarily as turbo-charged Country/Zydeco... performed by British rockers! Shows how connected modern music is.
  • John from Mansfield, TxVery Cool Song!!Still Very Upbeat After Twenty Two Years!!
    Brings Back Good Memories of Small Town Texas Motel Lounges and Saturday Nights!!
    In My Mind,I Can still Taste The beer and Smell the Cigarette Smoke!
  • Fred from Laurel, MdRight on, everyone who has said how dance-able this song is! Hey, another thing that always struck me about this number -- "street buskers of London?" -- "repertoire in the mid-'80s?" -- I always thought it was about the early years of rock, the '50's, and specifically, a reference to Chuck Berry -- you know, that move Chuck does on stage, wasn't that called the "walk of life?" Help me out on this, some of you fellow older rockers (or younger fans of early rock!). And the guitar style used throughout is very, very Berry! And "Be-Bop-A-Lula" was done by Gene Vincent in 1956, with a popular cover by the Everly Brothers in 1960; "What'd I Say" was done by Ray Charles, in 1959 -- but was it a cover of an earlier version? And doesn't "Johnny" refer to Chuck by nicknaming him after his signature hit, Johnny B. Goode? Is "I Got a Woman" a reference to Rick Nelson's "Travelin' Man"? Does the "song about the knife" refer to "Mack the Knife" by Bobby Darin? These lyrics are obviously very rich in references, but I don't know enough early rock (pre-1960) to pick 'em all up, and so they seem scattered all around to me. So I hereby challenge the tremendous pool of knowledge that is this 'audience' to point 'em out! And to tie 'em all together, if that's possible. Any takers?

  • Rhcpguy from Arroyo Grande, Cai was like damian, i had the same urge to get up and dance and not care. this is a friggin awsome song and a pretty cool music video
  • Jude from To, Canadathe keyboard in this song is just awesome...listen for yourself, its such a happy song
  • Nathan from From The Country Of, Canadathe video for this song i think was a great idea, sports is widely used for life's comparisons. sometimes things go your way as shown at the end or you wind up flat on your butt, you just got to have dedication, devotion on the walk of life... and the videos pretty damn funny too.
  • Chris from Paradise, CtThis is a very good song....bitchen keyboard LOVE IT....
  • Damian from Melbourne, AustraliaIn answer to Brent, NC:
    "Walk of Life" was in the movie "Lucas".
    When i firs theard this song I always had to resist dancing like an idiot, which this song tended to do to me.
  • Brent from Boomer, NcDoes anyone know a movie with this song at the end of it? I have recently watched the movie but i cannot think of it. Someone please let me know.
  • Jo-c from Lima, PeruThe first 10 seconds of this song are pretty cool. Then its cool too, but sounds different!
  • Sam from Sydney, Australiadamn that is a funky keyboard part
  • Martijn from Arnhem, NetherlandsThe song wasn't going to be on the album at all, but producer Neil Dorfsman was out-voted by the band and than the track got on the album. The song is one of the most up-lifting tracks Mark Knopfler had ever written. (source: booklet Remastered version BIA)

    Knopfler later changed the lyrics sometimes one later concerts such as the Mandela gig in '87 where Clapton is in the band as a stand in.
  • Daryl from Stoke, EnglandSame here, haha.
    I love playing this intro on my grandads organ. Probably because it's the only thing i can play well...
  • Stephanie from Ellicott City, MdI can't hear this song without wanting to get up and dance.
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