Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits song)

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

"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.[1] 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 original recording of the song has been featured in several motion pictures, including Hot Fuzz, Empire Records, Can't Hardly Wait, and I, Tonya.

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.[2] 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."[3] 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]


Chart (1981) Peak
UK Singles (OCC)[4] 8


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[5] Platinum 50,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[6] Platinum 600,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


Additional personnel



  1. ^ Khurana, Suanshu (17 May 2009). "Love-struck Romeo". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  2. ^ "Style "O" – National Guitars". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Guitar Stories: Mark Knopfler on the Six Guitars That Shaped His Career". Open Culture. Open Culture, LLC. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  5. ^ "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".
  6. ^ "British single certifications – Dire Straits – Romeo & Juliet". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  7. ^ Allen, Matt (January 2008). "Cash for Questions: The Killers". Q. No. 258. p. 20.
  8. ^ Devlin, Grem. "STEVE KNIGHTLEY – Cruel River (review)". The Living Tradition. No. 95. Retrieved 26 September 2017.