Brothers in Arms (song)

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"Brothers in Arms"
Brothers-in-arms-single-86-cover 500.jpg
Single by Dire Straits
from the album Brothers in Arms
B-side"Going Home: Theme of the Local Hero (Live)" & "Why Worry (Instrumental segment)"
Format7" vinyl, CD
Length6:58 (Album version)
6:05 (Edited version)
4:55 (Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits version)
LabelVertigo Records/Warner Bros. Records
Songwriter(s)Mark Knopfler
Producer(s)Neil Dorfsman, Mark Knopfler
Dire Straits singles chronology
"Money for Nothing"
"Brothers in Arms"
"Walk of Life"

"Brothers in Arms" is a 1985 song by Dire Straits, appearing as the closing track on the album of the same name. It was written in 1982, the year of the Falklands War. It was re-released in 2007 as a special edition to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the conflict and raise funds for veterans of it with posttraumatic stress disorder.[1]

Analysis: Background, Statement, Purpose[edit]

The melancholic song was written during the Falkland War and can be described as an anti-war song. Although the theme of war is not obvious in the song at the beginning, as at first a natural backdrop is sung about ("these mist covered mountains"), which is increasingly marked by destruction ("these fields of destruction - Baptisms of fire") and death ("Now the sun's gone to hell - And the moon's riding high - Let me bid you farewell - Every man has to die"), the last verse expresses explicitly the message of the song, the insanity of war: "We're fools to make war - On our brothers in arms." Mark Knopfler explains that the song is sung by a soldier dying on the battlefield; as a real singer he has to immerse himself, so to speak, in his view and feelings.[2] In the first two verses it is the own comrades to whom the speaker turns, i.e. the "brothers in arms". Only in the final line does it become clear that all enemy soldiers are also meant by the "brothers in arms".


There are two studio recorded versions of this song: the album version which is 6:55 minutes, and the shorter version which is 6:05 minutes and features slightly different (and shorter) solos at the beginning and end of the song. The version that appears on Dire Straits' greatest hits album, Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits, is 4:55. The version included on the live album On the Night contains an extra pedal steel guitar solo and is 8:55. The full-length, studio album version (6:55) was also included on the 2005 compilation Private Investigations.

Mark Knopfler recorded and usually played the song on a Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar, rather than his usual Fender "Stratocaster",[3] and the sunburst Les Paul appears in the distinctive promo video, which is in the style of a charcoal drawing, interspersing scenes of the band playing with scenes of war. During Dire Straits' 1992 "On Every Street" tour, Knopfler used his Pensa-Suhr MK1 for this song, like most of the others.

The song is reported to be the first CD single ever released;[4] it was released in the United Kingdom in 1985.

The song's lyrics, influence, and impact were discussed from a variety of musical and personal perspectives in the BBC radio programme and podcast Soul Music first broadcast in September 2012.[5]

Music video[edit]

The music video uses rotoscoping and shows the band performing, overlaid with images of the First World War.[6] In contrast with the at-that-time very modern clip in "Money for Nothing", the video clip has a very classic appearance in noisy black and white images.[7]

"Brothers in Arms" won Grammy Award for Best Music Video at the 29th Annual Grammy Awards in 24 February 1987.

Use as soundtrack for movies and TV series[edit]

The song appeared in the second season episode "Out Where the Buses Don't Run" of Miami Vice, the third season episode "I Coulda Been a Defendant" of Due South, and the second season finale of The West Wing, "Two Cathedrals".[8] In each instance, it is used over the climactic scenes of the episode. It was also featured in the 2001 movie Spy Game and most recently in the series finale, "START", of The Americans as well as the episode "Say Again Your Last" in SEAL Team.

It was also used as the title music to the 1992 BBC drama series "Civvies".

Track listings[edit]

7" Single (DSTR 11)

  1. "Brothers In Arms" - 6:04
  2. "Going Home (Theme of the Local Hero)" (Live) - 4:45

12" Maxi-Single (DSTR 1112)

  1. "Brothers In Arms" (Full Length Version) - 6:58
  2. "Going Home (Theme of the Local Hero)" (Live) - 4:45
  3. "Why Worry" (Instrumental Segment)


Chart (1985/88) Peak
UK Singles Chart 16
Irish Singles Chart 10
Polish Single Chart[9] 1
Dutch Top 40 59[10]
Australian Singles Chart 57
New Zealand Singles Chart 5


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[11] Gold 45,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Cover versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Falkland's veterans' song aid". Daily Express. 29 May 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Guitar Stories: Mark Knopfler on the Six Guitars That Shaped His Career". Open Culture. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Keith Hirsch's CD Resource » Blog Archive » The first CD Single: Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms"".
  5. ^ Producer: Lucy Lunt (18 September 2012). "Brothers in Arms". Soul Music: Series 14 Episode 4 of 5. BBC. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  6. ^ chaddi. "Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms Original". Dailymotion.
  7. ^ "Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits Songfacts".
  8. ^ "Brothers in Arms: the sound of The West Wing, Brothers in Arms, Series 14, Soul Music - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Lista Przebojów Programu 3" (in Polish). LP3. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  10. ^ Archived 25 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Danish single certifications – Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms". IFPI Denmark. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Discography: Recently". Joan Baez. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Discography: Brothers in Arms". Joan Baez. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  14. ^ "McBain (1991): Soundtracks". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  15. ^ "2007-10-27 Metallica Bridge School Benefit". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Dermot O'Leary presents The Saturday Sessions". Music @ The Digital Fix.
  17. ^

External links[edit]