What does Walk of Life mean?

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Dire Straits: Walk of Life Meaning


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Song Released: 1985

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Walk of Life Lyrics

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


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jan 9th 2016 report

    Wonder what Mark had in his mind when he wrote the song?

    Anyway...have never seen the video, so I take the song very literally, no "highs and lows", no sports association whatsoever.

    It's simple: as a gifted performer ("he's got the action, he's got the motion"; "the boy can play"; 'he'll tell you the story") music is Johnny's life ("the do the walk...walk of life")and he is dedicated and devoted to his music.

    Because of all this, he has a positive effect on his audience, takes them out of themselves ("turning all the night time into the day")

    Johnny isn't just any performer. He is a ROCK AND ROLL performer (Be Bop A Lula"--Gene Vincent; "What'd I Say"; " Got A Woman, vintage Ray Charles"; "about the knife": a reference to Mac the Knife, Bobby Darin's biggest hit.

    All this is all the more special because he hasn't "made it" yet; he is still busking, singing in subways (as Rod Stewart once did.) There will be some corporate crap, jealousy, envy to endure ("after all the violence and double-talk") but through it all, what remains is...the music, as pure as ever.

    One of the best songs--and there have been many--written about rock music as a transformational artistic creative force.

  2. anonymous
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    Dec 3rd report

    I thought the song was initially about a musical time and devotion for Johnny but can also see it’s a deep connection with life.. sometimes dark and sometimes night, but making the most and best out of every situation not allowing his situation to predict his revelation, always walking by faith, not by sight.. He does the walk of life, not death.

  3. anonymous
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    Feb 3rd 2020 report

    I always thought this was a aong about John Mcenroe. Walking thru the tennis tunnles, bad- mouthing umpires ( " and after all the violence and toubletalk" ), playing an amazing game ( "oh yeah, the boy can play" ) ( "he got the song about the knife", as in Mac the knife ) He was number one during that time.
    Just my thoughts.

  4. anonymous
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    Jun 20th 2019 report

    There is no reason to suppose that songs, like life, have to have meaning. Sometimes, writers just use cool lines with poetic license, and leave the rest of us to be pompous about meaning.
    As far as 'The Walk of Life' is concerned, the phrase 'trouble and strife' and 'knife' are both cockney rhyming slang for the same word "Wife." It is at least plausible that Mark Knopfler was singing about himself and 'the sweet loving woman' - his wife?

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  5. anonymous
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    Jun 19th 2018 report

    About the singer Roddy Frame, who Mark Knopfler was producing as Aztec Camera. Check on this yourself and you will see how it magically fits perfectly. Serious; and yes, I am in the position to know....

  6. anonymous
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    Jan 14th 2018 report

    Well known to be about Scots musician Roddy Frame, who Knopfler produced (Aztec Camera) around this time. "Yeah, the boy can play..." Look at what Knopfler said about him at the time and knowing that he was at the same time producing Frame's album (get ready for it, drum roll) KNIFE, the single is called "Knife".

  7. anonymous
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    Jun 15th 2015 report

    The song, to me, expresses a "pat on the back" for all those who take their job, career, profession, etc, seriously and do their best through their hard work and dedication. Whatever it takes, they try to overcome all odds and "make it happen". The "Walk of Life" is all about the ups and downs, positives and negatives, good times and bad that all of us, whatever our station in life, go through and eventually overcome. Dedication and devotion to who we are and what we do!

  8. anonymous
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    Oct 31st 2014 report

    I think this song is more about the rise and fall of a singer.

    He starts out in the tunnels trying to make a name (and life) for himself. He rises to fame and has the fame, glory, and power he was searching for and he can tell you stories of how he used to play in the tunnels. Finally, he has fallen from fame and is now back in the tunnels trying to eek out a living.

  9. anonymous
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    Oct 23rd 2014 report

    Different people have had different interpertations, but I always thought it was about john Lennon.

    The songs mentioned are those that were covered by the Beatles at the start. I considered the reference to the tunnels as the Cavern club. And turning nighttime into the day a double meaning to Hard Days Night.

    Just my opinion.

  10. Smogshaik
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    Jul 13th 2014 report

    For me this is a sort of an anthem for all players. Of course I am not talking about womanizers but everyone whose occupation has something to do with playing. I see it as mainly aimed at musicians but the video has obviously to do with sports, which can also be found in the lyrics. But all other artists, such as actors, are adressed as well, I think. The point of the song is to praise and motivate them.

    In the first few lines comes a "Johnny" who plays classic songs and tries to earn money with it by playing it in subway stations and the like. It is obviously a hard life but the music and the way Knopfler sings this makes it sound like a fun way of life. The next three lines can be applied less to musicians but more to sports and other active people. The line "yeah the boy can play" stands out to me because it shows what this song is about: praising the people who can play, be it sports people, artists, musicians... The "dedication (and) devotion" are especially praised here. "Turning all the night time into the day" seems to refer to the stressful nature of the professions I mentioned. A lot of work has to be done in those proffessions and not seldom do these people work at night AND day. Refer to Cristiano Ronaldo who ran 13km in the midst of night to be more fit, for example.

    The refrain is about our Johnny who tries to make money with music. The refrain mentions the classics he does. The line "He do the walk, he do the walk of life" emphasizes how he has a distinctive way of life, anybody who "plays" has a special "walk of life".

    "Here comes Johnny and he'll tell you the story" is especially interesting because one can make a link to actors here. The next line is quite obviously about sports: "hand me down my walking shoes". Johnny has "power and glory" according to the lyrics. He struggles to make money but the lyrics praise him as powerful and glorious. His walk of life is described as being "all the trouble and the strife". All professions associated with playing usually have these attributes: they pay low, are full of trouble, the people are striving and of course: everybody, especially artists, would describe them as powerful and glorious in what they do.

    In conclusion, this is a song by an artist about all artists: be it musicians, actors or people associated with sports. This song talks about their highs and lows, ups and downs. It is a praise to everybody who makes money by playing; the playful walk of life.

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