“Brothers in Arms” is a 1985 song by Dire Straits, appearing as the closing track on the album of the same name. It was originally written in 1982, the year of the Falklands War. It was re-released in 2007 as a special edition to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the conflict and raise funds for veterans of it with posttraumatic stress disorder.
There are two studio recorded versions of this song: the album version which is 6:55 minutes, and the shorter version which is 6:05 minutes and features slightly different (and shorter) solos at the beginning and end of the song. The version that appears on Dire Straits’ greatest hits album, Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits, is 4:55. The version included on the live album On the Night contains an extra pedal steel guitar solo and is 8:55. The full-length, studio album version (6:55) was also included on the 2005 compilation Private Investigations.
Mark Knopfler recorded and usually played the song on a Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar, rather than his usual Schecter “Stratocaster”, and the sunburst Les Paul appears in the distinctive promo video, which is in the style of a charcoal drawing, interspersing scenes of the band playing with scenes of war. During Dire Straits’ 1992 “On Every Street” tour, Knopfler used his Pensa-Suhr MK1 for this song, like most of the others.
The song is reported to be the first CD single ever released; it was released in the United Kingdom in 1985.
The song’s lyrics, influence, and impact were discussed from a variety of musical and personal perspectives in the BBC radio program and podcast Soul Music first broadcast in September 2012.
The song appeared in the second season episode “Out Where the Buses Don’t Run” of Miami Vice, the third season episode “I Coulda Been a Defendant” of Due South, and the second season finale of The West Wing, “Two Cathedrals”. In each instance, it is used over the climactic scenes of the episode. It was also featured in the 2001 movie Spy Game and most recently in the series finale, “START”, of The Americans.
The music video uses rotoscoping and shows the band performing, overlaid with images of the First World War. In contrast with the at-that-time very modern clip in “Money for Nothing”, the video clip has a very classic appearance in noisy black and white images.
“Brothers in Arms” won Grammy Award for Best Music Video at the 29th Annual Grammy Awards in 24 February 1987.