Dire Straits – Walk Of Life
And after all the violence and double talk
There's just a song in all the trouble and the strife
You do the walk, yeah, you do the walk of life
Hmm, you do the walk of life
Some songs, in the 80s like today, have an unstoppable musicality and cheerfulness. When we hear them, it’s impossible to sit still. Perhaps they are sustained by a very enthralling guitar or keyboard solo, or perhaps by a choir, and they end up transmitting an incredible energy, as well as joy and a great desire to dance. Perhaps the most striking case is Take on Me by a-ha, but I also remember Opus’ Live is Life.
In November 1985, however, a rather serious group included in an album a song that all in all had little to do with the other tracks, and they discovered that this song could live a life and a success of its own.
Dire Straits, masters of the purest English rock, noticed it with the release of Walk of Life, a song that they weren’t even so sure of including in their beautiful album Brothers in Arms, full of upbeat songs like Money for Nothing and So Far Away, but also of moments of great intimacy such as the beautiful Your Latest Trick or the title song Brothers in Arms.
The song tells of the life of a street artist, a busker, who with his skills and with his great experience manages to entertain people and earn the few coins needed to face the next stage of his journey. An old times artist, since songs like Be-Bop-A-Lula and What’d I Say are mentioned, who still manages to make it day after day wearing the same shirt, as Mark Knopfler did in concerts.
And indeed the original video, which was later limited to the European market, shows the story of a young man who spends his days playing the guitar in a passageway in the London tube, receiving coins and compliments from policemen, businessmen and ordinary people. These scenes are interspersed with footage of a Dire Straits concert.
However, for the American market, where the song was released a few months later, Mark Knopfler had a different idea, and conceived a video of funny scenes from the main American sports: players falling, dancing mascots, weird looking fans. The combination of funny scenes and the great guitar line played by Alan Clark was irresistible and in fact this second version of the video became common also in Europe and undoubtedly contributed to the success of this beautiful song.
Perhaps Walk of Life is not the most solemn Dire Straits’ song, but in a short time it certainly became one of the most loved songs, so much so that Mark Knopfler chose it after a short time as the opening song for Dire Straits concerts, even if he was not at all satisfied with all the woo-hoo’s he had put in it. And this song certainly helped to trace the path of this great group along the walk of music.
Dire Straits on Wikipedia