Sultans of Swing (5:47)

Cover of Dire Straits

From Dire Straits and 163 other releases

“Sultans of Swing” was the first single release of the British rock band Dire Straits.

It was first recorded as a demo at Pathway Studios, North London, and quickly acquired a following after it was put in the rotation at Radio London. It did not take long for the popularity to find its way to record executives, and Dire Straits were offered a contract with Phonogram, a British record company. The song was then re-recorded and released in both the United Kingdom and the United States, though the demo version remained on the original UK Vertigo single.

It entered the American music pop charts in early 1979. Unusually, the success of this single release came more than six months after the relatively unheralded release of the band’s debut album in October of 1978; the song reached the top 10 in both the UK and the U.S., reaching number 8 on the UK Singles Chart and number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped drive sales of the album, which also became a hit.

With its Dylanesque lyrics and economic guitar fills, the song was a marked change from the waning disco style and the nascent punk movement. The arrangement of “Sultans of Swing” was straightforward: two guitars, a bass, and a straight 4/4 beat on the drums. Dire Straits’ original lineup has Mark Knopfler on vocals and lead guitar, David Knopfler on rhythm guitar, John Illsley on bass, and Pick Withers on drums.

The song’s story is that of the diverse members of a working-class jazz group who only want to play their distinctive sound in a small London club, and don’t care how popular they are. One player mentioned by name, “Guitar George”, may have been a reference to musician George Borowski.

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You get a shiver in the dark
It's raining in the park but meantime
South of the river you stop and you hold everything
A band is blowing Dixie double four time

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  • davidbowiegirl

    Great song

    16 Feb 3:33pm Reply
  • Iracemapacenha

    Muito bom

    11 Feb 6:11pm Reply
  • HayleighRayment

    Sẅsultana brands and the control of my body and give me and fruity hair is brown like chocolate singing a good father and I have to go on like to steal jewellery belonging to do that to

    8 Feb 10:40pm Reply
  • TWHsr

    Super group and song.

    3 Feb 7:24am Reply
  • herrnenne

    I feel all right when I hear the music ring

    27 Jan 11:25pm Reply
  • bonene59

    What the f... This song is still after nearly 4 decades a NonPlusUltra for GuitarRockLessons ;-)

    27 Jan 7:10pm Reply
  • musiktanzmaus

    Einfach nur Genial!

    18 Jan 8:30pm Reply
  • Oppressotron

    My Dad's jam. Heard it a thousand times and is one of the few that I could hear another thousand. Cheers pops.

    12 Jan 2:49pm Reply
  • TWHsr

    Real good.

    28 Dec 2014 Reply
  • NIKKYI1

    a rocking song

    27 Dec 2014 Reply
  • xterra12

    So relaxing

    22 Dec 2014 Reply
  • md1163

    And Harry doesn't mind if he doesn't make the scene He's got a daytime job he's doing alright

    19 Dec 2014 Reply
  • TWHsr

    So good.

    28 Nov 2014 Reply
  • HayleighRayment

    Sultana bran is not the Meditation Opera and it upset that was a baby and there's no joy and the control plays in a nice picture of someone else for the last night was on my phone number of a month after a little meditation on the chase and I want a new one I bet she never wakes up to the

    19 Nov 2014 Reply
  • marjo47

    Did not know they are from Newcastle in the North-East. My favorite town and band.

    14 Nov 2014 Reply
  • kikucs

    My all time favourite - this song will never get old

    12 Nov 2014 Reply
  • LeoRottava

    Esse som é bom demais...

    12 Nov 2014 Reply
  • RAY7654321

    Loved it then, Love it now.

    4 Nov 2014 Reply
  • yuri_s_a_n

    one of my dad's favorite songs, and one of the few things we agree about, this is such an amazing song :)

    29 Oct 2014 Reply
  • TWHsr

    Love this and them.

    25 Oct 2014 Reply
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