Dire Straits – Industrial Disease

Love the lyrics to this song and also Knopfler’s guitar. When this song came out my friends and I would quote these lines to one another at school. Any song with I don’t know how you came to get the Betty Davis knees…But worst of all young man you’ve got Industrial Disease’ …..is alright with me.

The song was off of their Love over Gold album which peaked at #19 in the Billboard album chart in 1982. Industrial Disease peaked at #75 in the Billboard 100 in 1983.

From Songfacts

The song focuses on the decline of the British manufacturing industry in the 1980s. The song focuses on strikes, depression and dysfunctionality.

The title of what later became an AC/DC song is mentioned in the lyrics: “Thunderstruck.”

The reference to “brewers droop” as a medical condition is an in-joke, referring both to the effect of alcohol on libido and to the band of the same name that Mark Knopfler played in prior to Dire Straits.

Industrial Disease

Warning lights are flashing down at Quality Control
Somebody threw a spanner and they threw him in the hole
There’s rumors in the loading bay and anger in the town
Somebody blew the whistle and the walls came down
There’s a meeting in the boardroom they’re trying to trace the smell
There’s leaking in the washroom there’s a sneak in personnel
Somewhere in the corridors someone was heard to sneeze
‘goodness me could this be Industrial Disease?

The caretaker was crucified for sleeping at his post
They’re refusing to be pacified it’s him they blame the most
The watchdog’s got rabies the foreman’s got fleas
And everyone’s concerned about Industrial Disease
There’s panic on the switchboard tongues are ties in knots
Some come out in sympathy some come out in spots
Some blame the management some the employees
And everybody knows it’s the Industrial Disease

The work force is disgusted downs tools and walks
Innocence is injured experience just talks
Everyone seeks damages and everyone agrees
That these are ‘classic symptoms of a monetary squeeze’
On ITV and BBC they talk about the curse
Philosophy is useless theology is worse
History boils over there’s an economics freeze

Sociologists invent words that mean ‘Industrial Disease’
Doctor Parkinson declared ‘I’m not surprised to see you here
You’ve got smokers cough from smoking, brewer’s droop from drinking beer
I don’t know how you came to get the Betty Davis knees
But worst of all young man you’ve got Industrial Disease’

He wrote me a prescription he said ‘you are depressed
But I’m glad you came to see me to get this off your chest
Come back and see me later – next patient please
Send in another victim of Industrial Disease’
I go down to Speaker’s Corner I’m thunderstruck
They got free speech, tourists, police in trucks
Two men say they’re Jesus one of them must be wrong
There’s a protest singer singing a protest song – he says
‘they want to have a war to keep us on our knees

They want to have a war to keep their factories
They want to have a war to stop us buying Japanese
They want to have a war to stop Industrial Disease
They’re pointing out the enemy to keep you deaf and blind
They want to sap your energy incarcerate your mind
They give you Rule Brittania, gassy beer, page three

Two weeks in Espana and Sunday striptease’
Meanwhile the first Jesus says ‘I’d cure it soon
Abolish Monday mornings and Friday afternoons’
The other one’s on a hunger strike he’s dying by degrees
How come Jesus gets Industrial Disease

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

19 thoughts on “Dire Straits – Industrial Disease”

    1. You are teaching me about this… I didn’t know but yes he worked as a music critic….this is interesting…here is a quote: “The last story I ever wrote for the newspaper — on the day that I left — was the death of Jimi Hendrix.”

      I couldn’t find anything about him being challenged.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This song (on a cassette mixtape in my walkman) was how I started my nightly run for ages. The beat is consistent, the melody is mesmerizing, the lyrics are interesting, and it’s a long song. I still get a charge when I hear it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love these types of songs… long verses and quick choruses. Sultans of Swing, Dylan’s Tangled Up In Blue…though I don’t think you could run well to that one.
      You find something new when you listen to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually can run to Tangled Up in Blue; maybe because it simply makes me feel good. 🙂 I never thought about it being similar to Industrial Disease, but I see it now.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Always loved that song, both lyrically and in sound. Too many have forgotten it, so thanks for reminding people! “Two men say they’re Jesus- one of them must be wrong, there’s a protest singer he’s singing a protest song…” awesome lyrics!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh I like the music also…but like you said….those lyrics are wonderful. You learn something new everytime you listen to it…like a movie in a way lol.

      Liked by 2 people

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