"Private Investigations" is a popular song by Dire Straits from their album Love Over Gold. Although it was not released as a single in the US, it reached the number 2 position in the UK (despite its length), and is one of their biggest chart successes in the United Kingdom, on a par with "Walk of Life". Similarly, the album it came from, Love over Gold, only sold 500,000 copies in the US, though it was well-received elsewhere. The track also appeared on the compilation albums Money for Nothing and Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits, and is the title track to the more recent 2005 compilation, The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations.
The song begins with a sinister, deep pitched synthesizer orchestration, leading into a slow piano progression accompanying a classical guitar. Throughout the several spoken verses, Knopfler expresses the disillusionment and bitterness of a betrayed lover, likening his position to that of a private investigator uncovering scandal: "A bottle of whiskey and a new set of lies / Blinds on the windows and a pain behind the eyes.....Scarred for life, no compensation / Private investigations."
After the verses, the song opens up into a slow, bass-driven beat, with strident electric guitar chords at the end, before the gradual diminuendo featuring extended interplay between Mark Knopfler's acoustic guitar and marimba played by Mike Mainieri.
On the Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits DVD, Mark Knopfler said this about the song: "It's just about the Private Investigations... "What have you got at the end of the day" - Nothing more than you started out with..." It is said the song was inspired by author Raymond Chandler.
This song was also modified by Mark Knopfler into a film score for the Bill Forsyth movie Comfort and Joy in 1984, where you can hear the song broken up into portions and used for certain scenes.
Dire Straits were a British rock band, formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler (lead vocals and lead guitar), his younger brother David Knopfler (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), John Illsley (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Pick Withers (drums and percussion). Dire Straits' sound drew from a variety of musical influences, including jazz, folk, blues, and came closest to beat music within the context of rock and roll. Despite the prominence of punk rock during the band's early years, the band's stripped-down sound contrasted with punk, demonstrating a more "rootsy" influence that emerged from pub rock. Many of Dire Straits' compositions were melancholic. Dire Straits' biggest selling album, Brothers in Arms, has sold over 30 million copies.
Private Investigations lyrics
It's a mystery to me ... the game commences
for the usual fee ... plus expenses
confidential information ... it's in a diary
This is my investigation ... it's not a public inquiry
I go checking out the reports ... digging up the dirt
you get to meet all sorts in this line of work
treachery and treason ... there's always an excuse for it
and when I find the reason I still can't get used to it
And what have you got at the end of the day?
what have you got to take away?
a bottle of whisky and a new set of lies
blinds on the windows and a pain behind the eyes
Scarred for life ... no compensation