The Story Behind “Sultans of Swing” By Dire Straits
Mark Knopfler performs Sultan of Swing live, 2015 - Agrada / Youtube
The 1978 hit single “Sultans Of Swing” by Dire Straits was one of the songs on the demo tape used by the band to secure a record deal. The song’s catchy rhythm and clean guitars, along with Knopfler’s spoken vocals give off a unique vibe that deviated from the dance-oriented music prevalent in the era.
Mark Knopfler said the inspiration for the song was when he witnessed a lousy club band performing at the venue’s closing time. Knopfler was in Ipswich when he chanced upon the band, who was playing to a handful of drunk and buzzed customers. He said that the band ended their performance with an announcement from the lead singer, saying, “Goodnight and thank you. We are the sultans of swing.” Knopfler was amused, saying, “When the guys said ‘Thank you very much, We are the Sultans of Swing,’ there was something really funny about it to me because Sultans, they absolutely weren’t. You know they were rather tired little blokes in pullovers.”
Knopfler also says he’s sick of the song since he’s had to play it numerous times now.