Joey’s Artist Spotlight: Dire Straits

Despite popularity, there is more to Dire Straits below the surface

According to Joey, Making Movies is Dire Straits magnum opus.

According to Joey, “Making Movies” is Dire Straits’ magnum opus.


Taking a quick break from my typical Top 10 format, I wanted to take a second to highlight one of the most overlooked groups in rock history, Dire Straits.

I know what you’re going to say. “Overlooked? What about ‘Money For Nothing’ and ‘Sultans of Swing’?” And I’m with you, those are great songs, but I feel as if the bulk of their best songs get no airtime or appreciation.

Starting off with “Calling Elvis,” this song comes from a fairly unknown album from the band. It is chock-full of Elvis references, but also shows some heavy metal-ish tendencies from a band that largely stayed away from that style, even when it was one of the most popular genres at the time.

Mark Knopfler is one of the best guitarists ever; his style is entirely his own, and nobody else that I have heard can match or imitate the way he plucks the strings. He braces his pinky finger against the guitar and uses his thumb and two fingers to create a variety of sounds.

Another underrated Dire Straits gem is “Your Latest Trick,” which is driven by a horn section not commonly found in songs by the band.

Another example of the impressive musical storytelling by Knopfler, the song depicts somebody walking through a big city at night, after everybody has left and gone home.

This song has some of the cleverest lyrics I have heard in a song, such as, “And I played the blues in twelve bars down on Lover’s Lane,” and, “The twelve keys hanging off of my chain.” Both of those lyrics have multiple meanings that really add to the flavor of the song.

Although I am sifting through some of the deep cuts of the band, “Money For Nothing” has to be brought up.

After an extended choir-esque intro from legendary Police frontman Sting, the song opens up with one of the most bad-to-the-bone riffs ever. The effect is achieved by having a wah pedal at 180 degrees. It is pretty hard to put into layman’s terms, but if you look up a picture of a wah pedal, imagine it being straight across instead of in the up or down position.

I think their album “Making Movies” is their magnum opus.

Only one of the songs, “Romeo and Juliet,” was a hit for the band, but I think the whole album is so cohesive that one song almost blends into the next one.

All of the songs are pretty long: the shortest one, “Solid Rock” clocking in at only three minutes, 19 seconds, but the longest, “Tunnel of Love,” has an eight-minute, eight-second runtime.

The album only has seven songs, but they average out to about five minutes each. The whole feel is really laid back and relaxed. I often listen to this album while doing homework.

The last song I will touch on is “Down to the Waterline.” This song is very similar to “Sultans of Swing,” as both have very similar rhythms and riffs.

I like this song thematically more than “Sultans” though; I picture it to be about two young people falling in love and trying to figure things out.

Knopfler is one of the most unassuming rock stars you will ever see; he just looks like a normal dude. He does not wear flashy clothes or have a crazy hairstyle, but he can rock just about as hard as anybody else.

Dire Straits is obviously a very well-known band, but if you dig deeper than the surface, you will be pleasantly surprised by the hidden gems you might find.