Here come Johnny singing oldies, goldies
Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say
Here come Johnny singing I Gotta Woman
Down in the tunnel trying to make it pay
Walk Of Life, at its heart, is just a simple blues-rock song about the universal pleasure of music. However, it also features a number of very interesting references to classic songs and artists, and these have sparked some debate over the years.
We open with the line 'here comes Johnny'. This most likely refers to the Johnny from 'Johnny B. Goode', the classic '50s rock hit by legendary guitarist Chuck Berry. 'Johnny B. Goode' is itself a song about a musician, and so in many ways 'Walk Of Life' could be considered a contemporary homage to the song that many consider gave birth to rock 'n' roll. Chuck Berry would also likely have been an idol of Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler.
However, others believe that the Johnny in question may in fact be The Beatles' John Lennon. This is partly due to the fact that, when The Beatles were starting out, they cut their teeth playing 'oldies, goldies' like Gene Vincent's 'Be-Bop-A-Lua' and 'Baby What'd I Say' by Ray Charles 'down in the tunnels' of the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
Incidentally, 'Down in the tunnels' may also be a reference to the Dire Straits track 'Tunnel Of Love' from the 'Making Movies' album, which preceded 'Brothers In Arms' by five years. The song tells the story of a man who falls in love while trying to make ends meet as a fairground worker:
"Well it's been money for muscle another whirligig
Money for muscle and another girl I dig
Another hustle just to, just to make it big…
…On the tunnel of love."