The first song from what would become one of the great album phenomena of all time, Brothers In Arms, popped its head into the British singles chart on 20 April, 1985 for Dire Straits. As Mark Knopfler’s song ‘So Far Away’ made a modest start at No. 38 on the countdown, little did we know that the album it was about to be part of, would become one of the defining records of both the 1980s and the CD generation.
The group had been absent from the singles chart since a live version of ‘Love Over Gold’ reached a mere No. 50 some 14 months before, and it was another year earlier still that they had last been in the UK top 20, with ‘Twisting By The Pool’ in early 1983. ‘So Far Away’ made its debut in the week that the all-star USA For Africa fundraiser ‘We Are The World’ climbed to the top of the British chart.
A fortnight later, the song climbed to its No. 20 peak, three weeks before Brothers In Arms crashed onto the chart for the first of what would be an aggregate of 14 weeks at No. 1, over a ten-month span. The laid-back, gentle ‘So Far Away,’ written by Knopfler about a long distance relationship, opened a set that would become one of the bestselling records of all time.
In the US, Brothers In Arms started a nine-week run at No. 1 in the summer of 1985, and then the following March, ‘So Far Away’ entered the Billboard Hot 100, climbing to No. 19. It became, perhaps surprisingly, Dire Straits’ last appearance on that chart.
Knopfler still sometimes performs 'So Far Away' in his live show, and in 2006 it was included on the live album released from his tour with his friend Emmylou Harris, Real Live Roadrunning.