Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits song)
|"Romeo and Juliet"|
|Single by Dire Straits|
|from the album Making Movies|
|Released||9 January 1981|
|Format||7", 12" vinyl|
|Recorded||20 June – 25 August 1980|
|Producer(s)||Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Iovine|
|Dire Straits singles chronology|
"Romeo and Juliet" is a song by the British rock band Dire Straits, written by frontman Mark Knopfler. It first appeared on the 1980 album Making Movies and was released as a single in 1981. Reviewer Dan Bolles has called the song a "classic". The song subsequently appeared on the Dire Straits live albums Alchemy and On the Night, and later on Knopfler's live duet album with Emmylou Harris, Real Live Roadrunning (though Harris does not perform on the track). The track was also featured on the greatest hits albums Money for Nothing, Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits, and The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations.
Composition and lyrical interpretation
The lyrics of the song describe the experience of the two lovers of the title, hinting at a situation that saw the "Juliet" figure abandon her "Romeo" after finding fame and moving on from the rough neighborhood where they first encountered each other. In addition to the reference to William Shakespeare's play of the same title, the song makes playful allusion to other works involving young love, including the songs "Somewhere" – from West Side Story, which is itself based on the Shakespeare play – and "My Boyfriend's Back". The song's signature guitar arpeggio is identical to the piano arpeggio that underpins the first verse of Bruce Springsteen's song "Jungleland".
The song opens on an arpeggiated resonator guitar part played by Knopfler, who also sings the lead vocal. The introductory arpeggios and melody are played on a National Style "O" guitar, the same guitar featured on the album artwork for Brothers in Arms and Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits. In the Sky Arts documentary Guitar Stories: Mark Knopfler, "Knopfler picks up the National and demonstrates how he hit on the famous arpeggio lines in "Romeo and Juliet", from the Making Movies album, while experimenting with an open G tuning." The instrumentation remains simple during the verses and moves to a full-on rock arrangement in the chorus sections.
The song itself, written by Knopfler, was inspired by his failed romance with Holly Vincent, lead singer of the short-lived band Holly and The Italians. The song speaks of a Romeo who is still very much in love with his Juliet, but she now treats him like "just another one of [her] deals". Knopfler has both stated and implied that he believes Vincent was using him to boost her career. The song's line "Now you just say, oh Romeo, yeah, you know I used to have a scene with him," refers to an interview with Vincent, where she says "What happened was that I had a scene with Mark Knopfler and it got to the point where he couldn't handle it and we split up."
- Indigo Girls: a solo rendition by Amy Ray on the duo's album Rites of Passage.
- The Killers in 2007: it was recorded live at Abbey Road Studios for the Channel 4 show Live from Abbey Road, featured as a B-side on "For Reasons Unknown" and reappeared on their compilation album Sawdust. "It's a great song," said drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. "Brandon (Flowers) was really into it. The original idea was to do the song with Johnny Borrell but he got really sick and couldn't do it. I think we pulled it off pretty good. It's one of the finest songs ever," added Flowers. "Brilliant melodies."
- British folk singer-songwriter Steve Knightley: on his 2007 album Cruel River.
- Edwin McCain: on The Austin Sessions.
- Australian musician Lisa Mitchell: for the Like a Version segment on Australian radio station Triple J's breakfast show in 2009. It was included on the 2009 Like a Version Volume 5 compilation CD and DVD.
- Austin, Texas-based guitarist Monte Montgomery: in 2003, on his live album New and Approved (track 6), recorded at the Cactus Cafe and released on his own label. The track features Montgomery's fast guitar licks.
- Matt Nathanson: on his Live at the Point album. He says "...I was at a friends house [...] in New York City and we were talking about great songs and this is a great song."
- British singer-songwriter Passenger: in 2014 for the Sounds of the 80's covers album, released in conjunction with the BBC Radio 2 programme of the same name.
- Michael Stanley: on his 2012 album The Hang.
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||400,000|
sales+streaming figures based on certification alone
- Mark Knopfler – National Style O resonator guitar, lead guitar, lead vocals, rhythm guitar
- John Illsley – bass guitar
- Pick Withers – drums, percussion
- Khurana, Suanshu (17 May 2009). "Love-struck Romeo". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Bolles, Dan (17 April 2013). "The Phineas Gage Project, Three Phorm Live". Seven Days. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "Style "O" - National Guitars". NationalGuitars.com. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- "Guitar Stories: Mark Knopfler on the Six Guitars That Shaped His Career". Open Culture. Open Culture, LLC. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- Allen, Matt (January 2008). "Cash for Questions: The Killers". Q. No. 258. p. 20. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- Devlin, Grem. "Living Tradition CD review of STEVE KNIGHTLEY - Cruel River". www.livingtradition.co.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
- "Italian single certifications – Dire Straits – Romeo & Juliet" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 10 June 2019. Select "2019" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Romeo & Juliet" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
- "British single certifications – Dire Straits – Romeo & Juliet". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 19 February 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Romeo & Juliet in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.