Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits song)

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"Romeo and Juliet"
1980 UK single
Single by Dire Straits
from the album Making Movies
B-side"Solid Rock"
Released9 January 1981
Recorded20 June – 25 August 1980
Songwriter(s)Mark Knopfler
Dire Straits singles chronology
"Lady Writer"
"Romeo and Juliet"

"Romeo and Juliet" is a rock[1][4][5] 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.[6] 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[edit]

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 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;[7] the same guitar featured on the album artwork for Brothers in Arms and Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits.[8] 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."[9] 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."[citation needed]


Record World called it a "compelling performance that's both beautiful and forceful," praising Knopfler's guitar playing and the "Dylanesque" vocals.[10] Ultimate Classic Rock critic Michael Gallucci rated "Romeo and Juliet" as Dire Straits' 3rd best song, saying that it "bridges Shakespeare, West Side Story and a modern rock 'n' roll love story where fame, not family, is keeping the young lovers apart."[11] Classic Rock critic Paul Rees rated it to be Dire Straits' 4th greatest song, saying that most of it is "spine-tingling" and praising the "heart-tugging" refrain.[12]


Chart (1981) Peak
Irish Singles Charts[13] 5
UK Singles (OCC)[14] 8


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[15] Platinum 50,000
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[16] Platinum 60,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[17] Platinum 600,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


Additional personnel



  1. ^ a b Guaitamacchi, guaita, p. 586
  2. ^ Nannini & Ronconi, canzoni, pp. 49–56.
  3. ^ Gene Santoro. "Cos'è che rende Mark Knopfler così speciale? Niente di particolare, a sentire lui...". pp. 9–13.
  4. ^ Nannini & Ronconi, canzoni, pp. 49–56.
  5. ^ Gene Santoro. "Cos'è che rende Mark Knopfler così speciale? Niente di particolare, a sentire lui...". pp. 9–13.
  6. ^ Khurana, Suanshu (17 May 2009). "Love-struck Romeo". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Mark Knopfler: "The Six Guitars That Defined My Career"". 12 December 2016.
  8. ^ "Style "O" – National Guitars". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Guitar Stories: Mark Knopfler on the Six Guitars That Shaped His Career". Open Culture. Open Culture, LLC. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Single Picks" (PDF). Record World. 14 March 1981. p. 12. Retrieved 26 February 2023.
  11. ^ Gallucci, Michael (20 July 2013). "Top 10 Dire Straits Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  12. ^ Rees, Paul (17 April 2015). "The Top 10 Best Dire Straits Songs". Classic Rock. Louder Sound. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  13. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Retrieved 1 October 2023.
  14. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  15. ^ "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" under "Sezione".
  16. ^ "Dire Straits - Romeo and Juliet". El portal de Música. Productores de Música de España. Retrieved 7 February 2024.
  17. ^ "British single certifications – Dire Straits – Romeo & Juliet". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  18. ^ Allen, Matt (January 2008). "Cash for Questions: The Killers". Q. No. 258. p. 20.
  19. ^ Devlin, Grem. "STEVE KNIGHTLEY – Cruel River (review)". The Living Tradition. No. 95. Retrieved 26 September 2017.