How Dire Straits' 'Walk of Life' was influenced by a photo and the accordion

music news 01/01/2019

Dire Straits 1985 hit single 'Walk of Life' was originally inspired by a photograph and a Cajun-style accordion, according to lead guitarist and singer Mark Knopfler.

The single, which appeared on the band's blockbuster album 'Brother in Arms', started out as a tribute of sorts to street buskers. 

“I saw a photograph of a kid playing guitar in a subway, turning his face to the wall to get a good reverb. When I started playing the guitar, because I didn’t have an amplifier, I’d put the head of the guitar on the arm of a chair and put my head on the guitar to try and get into a loud noise. It kinda reminded me of that, I suppose,” Knopfler said.

You can see the influence in the original version of the music video for the song, which features a busker performing in an underpass. The video was later redesigned to appeal to the US market. You can watch both versions below.

“I’d been influenced a little bit here and there by Cajun music," Knopfler continued. "Actually there was a Cajun version, a Louisiana version, by someone. Really, all I was trying to imitate with that Farfisa [organ] riff, it’s really like accordion. If you substitute [the Farfisa for] accordion, it’s really a Cajun-style riff.”