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Written by frontman Mark Knopfler "Sultans of Swing" is a song by British rock band Dire Straits from their eponymous debut album. Released in 1978, its 1979 rerelease made it a hit in the United Kingdom and United States.

The demo of the song was recorded at Pathway Studios, North London, in July 1977 and quickly acquired a following after it was put on rotation at Radio London. Its popularity soon reached record executives, and Dire Straits were offered a contract with Phonogram Records. The song was then re-recorded in February 1978 at Basing Street Studios for the band's debut album.

The lyrics were inspired by a performance of a jazz band playing in the corner of an almost empty pub in Deptford, South London. At the end of their performance, the lead singer announced their name, the Sultans of Swing; Knopfler found the contrast between the group's dowdy appearance and surroundings and their grandiose name amusing.

Mark Knopfler has improvised and expanded the solo during live performances. The coda of the live recording on the 1984 album Alchemy stretches the song to nearly 11 minutes.


You get a shiver in the dark

It's a raining in the park but meantime-

South of the river you stop and you hold everything

A band is blowing Dixie, double four time

You feel alright when you hear the music ring

Well now you step inside but you don't see too many faces

Coming in out of the rain they hear the jazz go down

Competition in other places

Uh but the horns they blowin' that sound

Way on down south

Way on down south

London town

You check out guitar George, he knows-all the chords

Mind, it's strictly rhythm he doesn't want to make it cry or sing

They said an old guitar is all, he can afford

When he gets up under the lights to play his thing

And Harry doesn't mind, if he doesn't, make the scene

He's got a daytime job, he's doing alright

He can play the Honky Tonk like anything

Savin' it up, for Friday night

With the Sultans

We're the Sultans of Swing

Then a crowd a young boys they're a foolin' around in the corner

Drunk and dressed in their best brown baggies and their platform soles

They don't give a damn about any trumpet playin' band

It ain't what they call Rock and Roll

And the Sultans

Yeah, the Sultans, they play Creole


And then the man he steps right up to the microphone

And says at last just as the time bell rings

"Goodnight, now it's time to go home"

Then he makes it fast with one more thing

"We are the Sultans

We are the Sultans of Swing"

Songwriters: Mark Knopfler

Sultans of Swing lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group


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