Water of Love

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"Water of Love"
Water of lovesingle.jpg
Single by Dire Straits
from the album Dire Straits
B-side "Down to the Waterline"
Released 1978
Format 7"
Recorded 1978
Genre Rock
Length 5:23
Label Vertigo Records
Warner Bros. Records (U.S.)
Writer(s) Mark Knopfler
Producer(s) Muff Winwood
Dire Straits singles chronology
"Sultans of Swing"
"Water of Love"
"Lady Writer"

"Water of Love" is a song written by Mark Knopfler and originally released on Dire Straits' self-titled debut album. It was also released as a single in some countries, backed by "Down to the Waterline," as a follow-up to the band's first single from the album, "Sultans of Swing."[1] The single reached #28 on the Dutch charts.[1] It also reached #54 in Australia. The song was also included on Dire Straits live album Live at the BBC and on the multi-artist compilation album More Than Unplugged.[2]

Both "Water of Love" and "Down to the Waterline," as well as "Sultans of Swing," were among the five songs included on Dire Straits' demo tape that the band sent to Charlie Gillett, who played the tape on his radio show leading to the band's first recording contract.[3] It is one of four songs on side 1 of the Dire Straits album which deals with unhappy relationships, and author Michael Oldfield believes that the song is basically about the break-up of Mark Knopfler's marriage.[3] Writing in Rolling Stone, Ken Tucker used the song as an example of Knopfler's penchant for mixing clever lines with prosaic ones.[4] Tucker gives as an example the clever line "I need a little water of love" followed by "You know it's evil when you're living alone," which Tucker considers a silly line.[4] Writing in Billboard, Cary Darling praised the song's lyrics but criticizes the easy listening arrangement which "fails to grab the listener."[5] The Rolling Stone Album Guide commented on the "stark, romantic vision" of this song and its B-side, "Down to the Waterline," and how that vision contrasted with the bitterness of Dire Straits' songs such as "Sultans of Swing."[6]

"Water of Love" is one of five songs that Knopfler's publisher made country demos of without Knopfler's approval, leading to a number of country covers of Knopfler's songs.[7] This led to a cover version recorded by The Judds, which appeared on their River of Time album and was a single in Germany.[7][8][9] Wynonna Judd provided a "nocturnal and mysterious" lead vocal, and Knopfler himself played guitar on the Judds' version.[8][10] Allmusic critic Thom Jurek described the song as "the most seductive tune" on River of Time and The Rolling Stone Album Guide praised Knopfler's "typically pungent" guitar solo.[8][11] Alex Bollard and Lex Vandyke have also covered the song.[2]

In his book My Life in Orange, author Tim Guest recalls listening to Dire Straits' version of the song and the line "Water of love, deep in the ground, but there ain't no water here to be found" as a child hiding behind the sofa and wishing that the water of love would come to him some day.[12] The first person narrator of Caprice Crane's first novel Stupid and Contagious references "Water of Love" as an example of a clever song that she would like to hear quoted instead of the sound of flushing toilets, along with AC/DC's "Big Balls," ZZ Top's "Tush," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or Frank Sinatra's "My Way."[13] On the Dire Straits live album 'Live at the BBC,' as an introduction to the song they are about to perform, Mark Knopfler, with his signature dead-pan humour, is heard saying, "Okay, well, uh, this is a song called Water of Love. It is a... a strange idea but it's maybe one that you want to think about, a lot..."


  1. ^ a b "Dutch charts". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  2. ^ a b "Water of Love". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  3. ^ a b Oldfield, M. (1984). Dire Straits. Sidgwick and Jackson. pp. 33, 42–49. ISBN 9780283989957. 
  4. ^ a b Tucker, K. (25 January 1979). "Dire Straits". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  5. ^ Darling, C. (27 January 1979). "Closeup". Billboard. 
  6. ^ Marsh, D.; Swenson, J., eds. (1983). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. University of California. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-394-72107-1. 
  7. ^ a b Brown, A. & Mansfield, B. (2008). Make Me a Star: Industry Insiders Reveal How to Make It in Music. Thomas Nelson, Inc. p. 161. ISBN 978-1-4016-0404-2. 
  8. ^ a b c Jurek, T. "River of Time". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  9. ^ Judd, N. & Schaetzle, B. (1994). Love Can Build a Bridge. Random House. p. 375. ISBN 978-0-449-22274-4. 
  10. ^ Larkin, C. (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Country Music. Indiana University. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-7535-0236-5. 
  11. ^ DeCurtis, A.; Henke, J.; George-Warren, H., eds. (1992). The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. p. 385. ISBN 978-0-679-73729-2. 
  12. ^ Guest, T. (2005). My Life in Orange. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 157–158. ISBN 978-0-15-603106-6. 
  13. ^ Crane, C. (2006). Stupid and Contagious. Hachette Digital. ISBN 978-0-446-69572-5. 

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