Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms

Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms

31 years ago today, Dire Straits ascended to the pinnacle of Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart with a whole lot of help from a song extolling the virtues of rock stardom, specifically the ability to “get your money for nothing and your chicks for free.”

Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits’ fifth album, was written almost entirely by frontman Mark Knopfler, with the only exception arriving via the song referenced in the opening paragraph of this piece: “Money for Nothing” is actually credited to Knopfler and Sting, who famously sang the refrain, “I want my MTV!” And, hey, good for him: given that the video for the song ended up getting played an absurd number of times on the network – you know, back when the “M” still stood for “Music” – it seems only appropriate that Sting should reap a benefit from the song’s success. Not that it was the only hit from the album, but you probably already know that, since “So Far Away” and “Walk of Life” were both inescapable on the radio at the time, and “Your Latest Trick” and the album’s title track have both gotten their fair share of airplay since then, too.

As history reveals, Brothers in Arms’ success level was pretty insane: not only did it win two Grammy Awards and Best British Album at the 1987 Brit Awards, but it’s the seventh best-selling album in the UK and the third best-selling album in Australia. Indeed, it was so successful that it took Knopfler and company half a dozen years to finally follow it up with a new album, but given that the album in question, On Every Street, also topped the UK charts, it’s clear that it was worth the wait.