Meaning of Walk of Life by Dire Straits & The Story Behind

Producer Neil Dorfsman wanted to remove this track from Brothers in Arms. However, members of the rock band Dire Straits unanimously opposed his initiative and defended the song. As time has shown, the musicians did not fail.

Walk of Life climbed high on the charts in several countries, sold well as a single and became one of the most famous works of Mark Knopfler and his colleagues.

The Story Behind of Walk of Life by Dire Straits

The lyrics and music were written by Mark Knopfler. He used an uncomplicated chord progression and composed a catchy synth intro that became the song’s hallmark.

In an interview with DJ John Benson, Mark explained what gave him the idea for Walk of Life:

I saw a photo of a kid playing guitar on the subway with his back to the wall to get a good reverb. When I started playing guitar, I didn’t have an amp. I placed the neck on the arm of the chair, put my head on the guitar and tried to get a loud sound. Apparently, the photo reminded me of those days.

Knopfler also recalled sources of musical inspiration:

I was partly influenced by Cajun music [народность, живущая в штатах Техас и Луизиана – примета Blimey]. There is a Cajun version of the track. On the Farfisa organ, I tried to imitate the sounds of an accordion. Take an accordion instead of an organ and you’ll have a Cajun-style riff.

In the introduction, Mark Knopfler sings “Who-hoo” several times. He later said that he considered this move a mistake:

There are too many “woos” at the beginning of Walk of Life. I heard it on the radio the other day and I thought, “Oh my God! Why did I do it?

BBC 1989

Meaning song of Walk of Life by Dire Straits

The author didn’t explain what Walk of Life is about, but it’s clear from the text that it’s about street musician Johnny. He makes a living by playing in the underpasses famous songs that are considered the standards of blues and rock and roll: Be-Bop-a-Lula, What’d I Say and others.

An analysis of the words of the song Walk of Life is attached to the translation at the end of the article.

Release and achievements

Walk of Life is featured on the Dire Straits album Brothers in Arms. In Europe, the song was first released on the back of the So Far Away single. Later, the composition was repeatedly published on the “A” side.

It reached number two on the UK Singles Chart and reached the top ten on several Billboard charts. The first place was conquered by the track only in Ireland.

Walk of Life is featured on several official Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler best-of compilations.

Video of Walk of Life – Dire Straits

For the UK, the band shot a music video that alternates footage from a Dire Straits performance with scenes of a busker dressed as Mark Knopfler.

Let’s watch this Walk of Life video clip.

In the US, Dire Straits presented another video for Walk of Life. It was directed by Stephen Johnson. The video is designed in the style of cutting funny episodes from the world of professional sports. Mark Knopfler came up with the idea.

Let’s watch the online video for the song Walk of Life Dire Strais.

Interesting Facts

  • Walk of Life was featured on the Young Sheldon soundtrack, which tells the story of Sheldon Cooper from the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The song plays at the beginning of the first episode.

Walk of Life Lyrics by Dire Straits

Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
“Be-Bop-A-Lula”, “Baby What I Say”
Here comes Johnny singing “I Gotta Woman”
Down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay
He got the action, he got the motion
Yeah, the boy can play
Dedication, devotion
Turning all the night time into the day

He do the song about the sweet lovin’ woman
He do the song about the knife
He do the walk, do the walk of life
Yeah, he do the walk of life

Here comes Johnny, gonna tell you the story
Hand me down my walkin’ shoes
Here comes Johnny with the power and the glory
Backbeat the talkin’ blues
He got the action, he got the motion
Yeah, the boy can play
Dedication, devotion
Turning all the night time into the day


Version 1

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

Lyrics: Mark Knopfler

Facts of Life Lyrics by Dire Straits

  • Be-Bop-A-Lula is a song by Jene Vincent and the Blue Caps.
  • Reference to the song What’d I Say by Ray Charles.
  • I Got a Woman is a song by Ray Charles.
  • My Sweet Lovin’ Woman is a song by Robert Nighthawk.
  • A reference to Kurt Weill’s Mack the Knife.
  • Wordplay: The phrase “walk of life” can refer to the busker’s occupation or imply that he sings this Dire Straits song.
  • Possible reference to Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode.
  • Shoes are mentioned in the songs of many legendary musicians: Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson, Carl Perkins.
  • Talking Blues is a type of blues in which the manner of performance is close to speech.


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