Mark Knopfler recalled how Dire Straits' 1985 hit single “Walk of Life,” which appeared on their blockbuster album Brothers in Arms, had been inspired by a photograph and Cajun-style accordion.

The song started out as something of a tribute to street buskers, as the bandleader told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.

“I saw a photograph of a kid playing a guitar in a subway, turning his face to the wall to get a good reverb,” Knopfler said. “When I started playing the guitar, because I didn’t have an amplifier, I’d put the head of the guitar on the arm of a chair and put my head on the guitar to try and get into a loud noise. It kinda reminded me of that, I suppose.”

That influence is visible in the original version of the song’s video, which features a busker performing in an underpass; a later video was designed specifically for the U.S. market.

You can watch both versions below.

“I’d been influence a little bit here and there by Cajun music," Knopfler continued. "Actually there was a Cajun version, a Louisiana version, by someone. Really, all I was trying to imitate with that Farfisa [organ] riff, it’s really like accordion. If you substitute [the Farfisa for] accordion, it’s really a Cajun-style riff.”

A cover by Lousiana swamp artist Charles Mann proves his point. Listen below.

Be sure to listen to Ultimate Classic Rock Nights on more than 50 stations across the U.S. from 7PM until midnight, Monday through Friday. You can see the list of radio stations where it airs here.

 

 

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