Industrial Disease (song)

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"Industrial Disease"
Industrial Disease.jpg
Single by Dire Straits
from the album Love over Gold
B-side "Solid Rock" (U.S.)
Released 1982
Genre Rock
Length 5:48
Label Vertigo Records
Writer(s) Mark Knopfler
Producer(s) Mark Knopfler
Dire Straits singles chronology
"Private Investigations"
"Industrial Disease"
"Twisting by the Pool"
Love over Gold track listing
"Private Investigations"
"Industrial Disease"
"Love Over Gold"

"Industrial Disease" is a song by the British rock band Dire Straits and written by Mark Knopfler. It appeared on their 1982 album Love over Gold.

The song was released as a single in the U.S. and as a rare B-side to "Private Investigations" on cassette tape in the United Kingdom. The B-side to the U.S. "Industrial Disease" single was "Solid Rock" from the previous Dire Straits album Making Movies.


The song takes a look at decline of the British manufacturing industry in the early 1980s, focusing on strikes, depression and dysfunctionality. For example, the absurdity of media-driven maladies is laid out in a segment of the song describing the narrator's visit to a doctor's office for treatment of his "Industrial Disease".

The reference to "Brewer's Droop" as a medical condition is an in-joke, referring both to the effect of alcohol on libido and to the band of the same name that Mark Knopfler played in prior to Dire Straits.

The fictitious "Industrial Disease"[edit]

While most of the song is about the reaction of different characters to the outbreak of Industrial disease, there are still plenty of references to the actual ailment itself.[1] None are definitive and many seem to contradict and confuse, and make use of double entendre and irony.

  • A sneeze arouses fear of a possible case of Industrial Disease
  • Workers are reported to come out "in sympathy" and "in spots" (sympathy strikes and spot strikes)
  • 'Dr Parkinson' diagnoses a patient with 'Smoker's Cough', 'Brewer's Droop', 'Bette Davis knees', Industrial Disease and depression. He writes an unknown prescription but it is unclear whether the depression (clinical or economic) is a symptom of any conditions above.
  • The 'Bette Davis knees' line has been subject to various interpretations. It may be related to an English joke[2] or a parody of "Bette Davis Eyes".
  • The singer poses the hypothetical question of 'How come Jesus gets Industrial Disease?' but it is unknown which one if not both of these men he is referring to:
  • The first man at Speaker's Corner declaring he is Jesus claims he will cure Industrial Disease soon by abolishing Monday mornings and Friday afternoons
  • The second man at Speaker's Corner declaring he is Jesus is on hunger strike


  1. ^, The Lyrics of Industrial Disease by Dire Straits.
  2. ^ "Microsoft Word - CONTENTS.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-10-31. 

External links[edit]