These are the lyrics I wrote for Dire Straits back in 1975 in their original form as far as I can recall. (I have added an asterisk to lines changed by Mark Knopfler).

Dire Straits Album

Down To The Waterline

Sweet surrender on the quayside
You remember we used to run and hide
In the shadow of the cargoes I take you one time
And we’re counting all the numbers down to the waterline

Me and the Mrs on the stairways*
French kisses in the darkened doorways
A foghorn blows out wild and cold*
A policeman shines a light upon my shoulder

Up comes a coaster fast and silent in the night
Over my shoulder all you can see are the fire flies*
No money in our jackets and our jeans are torn
Your hands are cold but your lips are warm

He can see her on the jetty where they used to go*
He can feel her in the shadows where the sailors go*
When he’s walking by the river and the railway line*
He can still hear her whisper*
Let’s go down to the waterline

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Water Of Love

High and dry in the long hot day
Lost and lonely in every way
Got the flats all around me sky up above
All I need is a little water of love*

I’ve been too long lonely and my heart feels pain
Crying out for some soothing rain
I believe I have taken enough
Yes I need a little water of love

Water of love deep in the ground
But there aint no water here to be found
Some day baby when the river runs free
It’s a-gonna carry that water of love to me*

There’s a bird up in a tree sitting up high
Just a-waiting for me to die
If I don’t get some water soon
I’ll be dead and gone by the afternoon*

Once I had a woman I could call my own
Once I had a woman now my woman she gone
Once there was a river now there’s a stone
You’ll know it’s evil when you’re living alone*

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Setting Me Up

You say I’m the greatest bound for glory
Well the word is out and I learned
I got the latest side of the story
You’re pulling out before you get burned

Well your hands are squeezing me down to the bone
I never saw you breaking no law
Stands to reason I’ve got to leave you alone
What you take me for

You’re setting me up to put me down
You’re making me out to be your clown
You’re just setting me up to put me down
You better give it up
Quit your messing around

You think I care about your reaction
You think I don’t understand
All you wanted was a piece of the action
Now you talk about another man

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Six Blade Knife

Your six blade knife do anything for you
Anything you want it to
One blade for breaking my heart
One blade for tearing me apart
Your six blade knife do anything for you

You take away my mind like you take away the top of a tin
When you come up from behind and lay it down cold on my skin
Took a stone from my soul when I was lame
Just so you could make me tame

I’d like to be free of it now – I don’t want it no more

Everybody got a knife it can be just what they want it to be
A needle, the wife or something that you just cannot see*
You know it keeps you strong
Yes and it’ll do me wrong
Your six blade knife do anything for you

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Down South Again

Down south again I don’t know if I’m going or leaving home*
This boy’s got to keep moving*
Seems like the boy is bound to roam

Down south again got no money I’ve got no place to go*
That woman’s with her lover boy
Never want to see her face no more

Every single time I roll across the River Tyne*
I get the same old feeling
Every time I’m moving down the line

Down south again last night I felt like crying*
Down south again last night I felt like dying*
Right now I’m sick of living
Bu I’m going to keep on trying

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Sultans Of Swing
You get a shiver in the dark
It’s been 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 all right when you hear the music swing*

You step inside but you don’t see too many faces
Coming in out of the rain to hear the jazz go down
Competition in all the places
Ah but the horns keep blowing that sound
Way on down south, way on down south London town

You check out Guitar George he knows all the chords
Mind he’s strictly rhythm he doesn’t want to make it cry or sing
It’s been 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
Saving it up for Friday night
With the Sultans, with the Sultans of Swing

And a crowd of young boys they’re fooling 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 playing band
It ain’t what they call Rock ‘n’ Roll
And the Sultans, yeah the Sultans played Creole

And then the manic steps right up to the microphone*
And says “At last it’s just a time gallery*
Goodnight now it’s time to go home”
and he makes it fast with one more thing

“We are the Sultans, we are the Sultans of Swing”


In The Gallery

Carrie made a bareback rider proud and free upon a horse*
And a fine coalminer for the NCB that was
A fallen angel and Jesus on the cross
A skating ballerina you should have seen her do the skater’s waltz

Some people have got to paint and draw
Carrie had to work in clay and stone*
Like the waves coming to the shore
It was in her blood and in her bones
Ignored by all the trendy boys in London
She might as well have been making toys or strings of beads*
She could not be in the gallery

And then you get an artist says he doesn’t want to paint at all
He takes an empty canvas and sticks it on the wall
The birds of a feather all the phonies and all of the fakes
While the dealers they get together
And they decide who gets the breaks
And who’s going to be in the gallery

No lies he wouldn’t compromise
No junk no bits of string
And all the lies we subsidise
That just don’t mean a thing
I’ve got to say he passed away in obscurity
And now all the vultures are coming down from the tree
So he’s going to be in the gallery

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Wild West End

Stepping out to Angellucci’s for my coffee beans
Checking out the movies and the magazines
Waitress she watches me crossing from the Barocco Bar
I’m getting a pickup for my steel guitar
I saw you walking out Shaftesbury Avenue
Excuse me for talking I wanna marry you
This is the seventh heaven street to me
Don’t seem so proud
You’re just another angel in the crowd
And I’m walking in the wild west end
Walking with your wild best friend

And my conductress on the number nineteen
She was a honey
Pink toenails and hands all dirty with money
Greasy greasy greasy hair easy smile*
Made me feel nineteen for a while
And we went down Chinatown*
In the backroom it’s a man’s world
All the money go down
Duck inside the doorway gotta duck to eat
Right now feels alright now
You and me we can’t beat

And a gogo dancing girl yes I saw her
The deejay he say we
I feel alright to see her
But she’s paid to do that stuff
She’s dancing high I move on by
The close ups can get rough
When you’re walking in the wild west end

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal


Red sun go down way over dirty town
Starling are sweeping around crazy shoals
A girl is there high heeling across the square
Wind blows around in her hair and the flags upon the poles
Waiting in the crowd to cross at the light
She looks around to find a face she can like.

Church bell clinging on trying to get a crowd for evensong
Nobody cares to depend upon the chime it plays
They’re all in the station praying for trains
Congregations late again
It’s getting darker all the time these flagpole days
Drunk old soldier he gives her a fright
He’s a crazy lion he’s a-howling for a fight.*

Strap hanging gunshot sound
Doors slamming on the overground
Starlings are tough but the lions are made of stone
Her evening paper is horror torn
But there’s hope later for Capricorns
Her lucky stars give her just enough to get her home
Then you read about a swing to the right*
But she’s a-thinking about a stranger in the night*
I’m a-thinking ’bout the lions tonight*
What happened to the lions.

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Brothers In Arms Album

So Far Away

Here I am again in this mean old town
And you’re so far away from me
And where are you when the sun goes down
You’re so far away from me

So far away from me
So far I just can’t see
So far away from me
You’re so far away from me

I’m tired of being in love and being all alone
When you’re so far away from me
I’m tired of making out on the telephone
And you’re so far away from me

So far away from me
So far I just can’t see
So far away from me
You’re so far away from me

I get so tired when I have to explain
When you’re so far away from me
See you been in the sun and I’ve been in the rain
And you’re so far away from me

So far away from me
So far I just can’t see
So far away from me
You’re so far away from me

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Walk Of Life

Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
Be-Bop-A-Lua, Baby What I Say
Here comes Johnny singing I Gotta Woman
Down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay
He got the action, he got the motion
Yeah, the boy can play
Dedication devotion
Turning all the night time into the day

He do the song about the sweet lovin’ woman
He do the song about the knife
He do the walk, he do the walk of life

Here comes Johnny and he’ll tell you the story
Hand me down my walkin’ shoes
Here come Johnny with the power and the glory
Backbeat the talkin’ blues
He do the song about the sweet lovin’ woman
He do the song about the knife
He do the walk, he do the walk of life

Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say
Here comes Johnny singing I Gotta Woman
Down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay
And after all the violence and double talk
There’s just a song in the trouble and the strife
You do the walk, you do the walk of life

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Money For Nothing

Now look at them yo-yo’s, that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the ITV*
That ain’t working, that’s the way you do it
Money for nothing cheques for free*

I want my own TV*

Now that ain’t working, that’s the way you do it
Let me tell you them guys ain’t dumb
Maybe get a blister on their little finger*
Maybe get a blister on their thumb*

We can get you microwave ovens*
Kitchens, refrigerators, colour T.V.’s*
That ain’t working, that’s the way you do it
Money for nothing cheques for free*

I want my own TV*

The little faggot with the earrings and the makeup
Yeah, that’s his own hair*
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he’s a millionaire

I should have learned to play the guitar
I should have learned to play them drums
And he’s up there, what’s that? Hawaiian noises?
Banging on the bongos like a chimpanzee

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Ride Across The River

I’m a soldier of freedom in the army of the man*
We are the chosen, we’re the partisan
The cause it is noble and the cause it is just
We are ready to pay with our lives if we must

Gonna ride across the river deep and wide
Ride across the river to the other side

I’m a soldier of fortune, I’m a dog of war
And we don’t give a damn who the killing is a-for*
It’s the same old story with a different name
Death or glory, it’s the killing game

Nothing gonna stop them as the day follows the night
Right becomes wrong, the left becomes the right
And they sing as they march with their flags unfurled
Today in the mountains, tomorrow the world

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

The Man’s Too Strong

I’m just and ageing drummer boy
And in the wars I used to play
And I’ve called the tune
To many a torture session
Now they say I am a wild criminal*
And I’m fading away
Father please her my confession

I have legalised robbery
Called it a belief
I have run with the money
And hid like a thief
I have re-written history
With my armies and my crooks
Invented memories
I did burn all the books

And I can still hear his laughter
And I can still hear his song
The man’s too big
The man’s too strong

Well I have tried to be meek
And I have tried to be mild
But I spat like a woman
And sulked like a child
I have lived behind walls
That have made me alone
Striven for peace
Which I have never known

Well the sun rose on the courtyard
And they all did hear him say
“You always were a Judas
But I got you anyway
You may have got your silver
But I swear upon my life
Your sister gave me diamonds
But I gave them to your wife”

Oh father please help me
For I have done wrong
The man’s too big
The man’s too strong

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

Brothers In Arms


These mist covered mountains
Are a homeland for me*
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be

Some day you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms

Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I’ve witnessed your suffering
As the battles raged higher

And though we were hurt so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms

There’s so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones

Now the sun’s gone to hell
And the moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die

But it’s written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
We’re fools to make war
On our brothers in arms

Lyrics © 1975 Robert Marshal

All © 1975 Robert Marshal, Straitjacket Music

9 responses to this post.

  1. Hey , you are really funny, bet this ruffles some feathers…curious as to why you are doing this? publicity?


  2. Posted by Gerald on March 13, 2020 at 2:28 am

    Mostly great lyrics, expect there’s a lot of typos, and the parts with asterixis are kind of stupid, awkward, and don’t fit in well to the rest of the lyrics.

    “These mist covered mountains are homeland for me” Why? Doesnt make sense

    “They say i am a wild criminal” Just sounds dumb, doesn’t match the rest of the song.


    • I was teaching Mark how to write folk lyrics, and since I’m Scottish they were set in my country, I’ll leave your doubts about them not fitting in to the Dire Straits fans.


  3. Posted by Andrew Wild on March 21, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    Utter tosh.


    • Are you referring to the lyrics, as you cannot surely be in the minority queue of those who know I wrote the lyrics for the D.S. album, but remain faithful to Mark who has never said he wrote the lyrics, songs by Mark Knopfler he has of course on other albums said he was the lyric writer. This blog has been on the web for ten years and the critics who thankfully have been few, in the 500,000 people who have read my claim, and quoted, it will be down in a week, Marks lawyers will have him in court, have all disappeared into the mists of time. Its difficult for Mark Knopfler fans to adjust their thoughts and expectations of their idol, but Mark didn’t deceive them, they took it for granted he’d written the lyrics, and most of them are fans who have followed his solo career, true D.S. fans who moved on with them into Communique knew the lyrics and the music had changed. So unless your going to say the reason why this blog is still on the web, is because why should a Elephant be bothered about a mouse, I take it your Tosh was because you didn’t favour the lyrics I’d written.


  4. Posted by Cody Guindon on March 21, 2022 at 1:02 am

    So the only songs you ever wrote were stolen by Dire Straits and you never wrote any more?


    • Hi Cody, I wrote the lyrics that went onto the Dire Straits album, and most of what were used on the Brother in Arms, Mark Knopfler wrote the songs and the music using my lyrics. The lyrics were’nt stolen I allowed them to be used if there was ever to be a band called Dire Straits, and of course they did form a band called Dire Straits and yes they did use the lyrics. It was through John Illsley’s letter to my lawyers stating he didn’t like to be called a plagiarist and he’d never heard of Robert Marshal, that the thought of my lyrics being stolen came into the picture. And that was why I confronted him in the Art Gallery in St James London, and he knew Robert Marshal alright when he was faced with him, and it was then that I realised not only was he intent on stealing the lyrics that were given as a agreement, he and Knopfler were stealing the monies and Royalties that were legally mine for writing the lyrics. As for writing lyrics for someone else, I’d have thought that could perhaps jinx the good fortune that gripped Dire Straits, and I didn’t want to do that, and now it seems rather naive, considering neither Knopfler or Illsley remained loyal to me. Robert


  5. Posted by Cody Guindon on May 10, 2022 at 5:09 am

    Interesting reading. Why do you think after say, making movies, a wonderful album with incredibly lyrics would they go back to ‘the well’ and take your lyrics again for brothers in arms?


    • I was showing Mark Knopfler how to write lyrics, on the first D.S. album if you listen real hard you’ll hear reggae lyrics, and the lyrics that he used on the B.I.A. album was mainly folk, that he turned into rock, and did a great job of it, Your latest trick is 100 per cent Mark Knopfler and you can see the difference in the written content, though a few of the lyrics were left unfinished it was like the teacher giving you homework to see your capabilities, and I’d say the teacher was quite pleased with the finished article. So I’d say the reason he took so long to include those lyrics in a album, were they didn’t fit in with his own lyrics, and musically he matured and thought he could change folk songs to rock songs, and we got the Brothers in arms, genius eh. Robert


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: