Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms

Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms

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British rock band Dire Straits became one of the biggest stadium acts in the world in the 1980s and ’90s, their success lasting for almost 20 years and their records spending a total of 1,100 weeks in the UK albums chart.

Their most famous album was Brothers in Arms, released in 1985. The Guinness Book of World Records lists it as the eighth best-selling album in the history of the charts, as it sold 30.8 million copies. In total, the band has sold 108 million records, including digital downloads, earning them three Brit Awards, four Grammys and two MTV Music Awards.

Soldiers in arms© kaninstudio / Adobe Stock



Dire Straits formed in 1977, in Deptford, London, offering an alternative to punk with a trademark rock sound that had grown from their roots on the pub circuit. The founder members were brothers Mark and David Knopfler from Newcastle, bass player John Illsley and drummer David “Pick” Withers.

Mark Knopfler was the main songwriter, lead vocalist and lead guitarist and his brother provided backing vocals and played rhythm guitar. Soon after forming, they sent out their demo tape to record companies and secured a recording deal with Vertigo.

Their first album, Dire Straits, was recorded on a low budget of £12,500, turning them into overnight stars in February 1978. Peaking at number five in the UK, it reached number two in the US, number one in Australia and France and charting across Europe.

Their first single, Sultans of Swing, came from the album and it made the top ten in the UK and US charts. It was known for its ground-breaking video, which was one of the first that used computer-animated figures.


Brothers in Arms

The band recorded their best-selling album, Brothers in Arms, between November 1984 and March 1985. Released in May 1985, it was certified 14 times platinum and was number one in numerous countries across the world.

The title song from the album was released as a single in 1985. Originally, it had been written by Mark Knopfler in 1982, the year of the Falklands War. It was reportedly the first CD single ever to be released.

Winning the Grammy Award for Best Music Video in February 1987, the video was filled with emotional images of the conflict during World War I.


Lyrics’ meaning

The poignant lyrics of Brothers in Arms correspond with the theme of the song, which talks about war.

The term “brothers in arms” is used to describe the bond that grows between the troops during the devastation of war. It describes the camaraderie that forms not only among British soldiers, but also among members of the Armed Forces of all nationalities.

Brothers in Arms was written during the conflict between Britain and Argentina, who fought over the Falkland Islands off the coast of Argentina. The war continued from 2nd April 1982 until 14th June 1982, beginning with Argentina invading the islands, and ending in British victory.

There were 907 military and civilian deaths during the conflict, from both sides, including 255 British servicemen and three Falkland Island civilians.

Mark Knopfler wrote the song at the height of the war. It is taken from the point of view of a soldier at the frontline, with the narrator saying to his comrades, “Through these fields of destruction, baptism of fire, I’ve witnessed your suffering as the battle raged high.”

He tells them, “In the fear and alarm, you did not desert me, my brothers in arms.”

People have made different interpretations of the lyrics, as they relate not only to the Falklands War, but to World War One and to every other conflict all over the world, where similar bonds have grown between the troops at the heart of the fighting.

Every branch of the British Armed Forces lost comrades during the combat, including the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy, the Royal Marines, the British Army, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Brothers in Arms emphasises the importance of friendship in war, as it can help to get you through some tough times.

Knopfler released a new version of the song in 2007 to raise money to treat the Falklands veterans who were suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


Remembrance Sunday

Those brothers in arms who have lost their lives in conflicts will be respectfully remembered at Remembrance Sunday services, that will take place across Britain on 11th November – the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The solemn services and the laying of poppy wreaths at churches and cenotaphs across the land, will pay tribute to everyone who made the ultimate sacrifice, in every conflict, to ensure the freedom of future generations.

A two-minute silence will be held across the land at 11am to give people time to reflect on the bravery, and the tragic loss of life.

Page1 will paying our respects to all those who have given their lives in times of war. Their sacrifices must never be forgotten.

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KWDire Straits: Brothers in Arms

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