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YouTube Gold: The Sultans Of Swing

Mark Knopfler

Dire Straits honoured
A Music Heritage Award from the Performing Right Society outside 1 Farrer House in Deptford, South London. Dire Straits band members Mark Knopfler and John Illsley once shared the council flat.
Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images

Pop music had an interesting path in the 1970s. The Beatles broke up in 1970 and a lot of bands fell into serious drug abuse which really derailed groups like The Rolling Stones and The Who. Then some groups just did soft pop, like Bread, and some moved into country rock, like Gram Parsons and the Eagles.

Then there was disco, followed closely by punk and New Wave and a few one-off bands like Golden Earring and their classic Radar Love.

But a lot of it was just crap. Some of it was fun crap, like Afternoon Delight and Talkin’ Baseball but a lot was Bobby Goldsboro and Debbie Boone level bad and that’s about as bad as it gets.

But a few bits of distinct music sprouted in the ‘70s. Early Springsteen was wildly inventive and fun. Night Moves by Bob Seger was superb.

And then, out of left field, came Sultans of Swing from Dire Straits.

There was just nothing like it. The lyrics were interesting and the guitar work was spectacular - and more so when you learned that guitarist Mark Knopfler didn’t use a pick, instead doing amazing work with his fingers which is pretty uncommon.