"Everybody Pays" as written by and Mark Knopfler....
I got shot off my horse so what? I'm up again
And playing in one of these big saloons on main
You can come up here take a look around these sinners dens
You're only ever going to find one or two real games

Nobody's driving me underground
Not yet anyway
But either on the strip or on the edge of town
Everybody pays everybody pays to play

Yeah you ought to stay right where you are in sawdust land
It's probably the safest place to be
With your greasy little pork pies and your shoestring hands
It makes no difference to me

All those directions which we never took
To go our different ways who went and wrote
The oldest story in the book?
Everybody pays everybody pays to play

Curl up inside a boxcar dream and disappear
With a couple low roller friends
You were never one for trouble
So get out of here
I knew the game was dangerous back then

But nobody's breezing through these swinging doors
Just ups and walks away
Everybody has to leave some blood here on the floor
Everybody pays everybody pays to play


Lyrics submitted by redmax

"Everybody Pays" as written by Mark Knopfler

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Everybody Pays song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThis is a real gem.

    It seems to be about the life of a card gambler and the cost that is exacted by such a life, whether in money at the table, a back alley beating afterward, or just simple lonliness.

    My favorite stanza is the last. He seems to be telling a more respectable friend to stay away and not get entangled with his problems. "You were never one for trouble/so get outta here/I knew the game was dangerous back then" calls to mind an unlucky instance where the main character's debts catch up with him and he's in for some severe trouble, and he doesn't want his friend to get involved.

    Very touching.
    jonpalinon September 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, Jonpalin I agree. It seems like he's warning an old friend for the dangers of gambling.
    pearjuiceon June 12, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI have a different view!
    The meaning of the song is: no matter how successful or rich you are, eventually you have to suffer and one day you're surely gonna die (But either on the strip or on the edge of town, everybody pays).
    This song was written after a bike accident when he broke his shoulder, his collarbone and some ribs. There was some doubt if he would ever be able to play guitar again and he recovered fully (I got shot off my horse, So what? I'm up again and playing in one of these big saloons on main) and (Everybody has to leave some blood here on the floor). The accident makes him aware of his own mortality (Nobody's driving me underground. Not yet anyway).
    Actually, I think the gambling is only a metaphor for life!
    adao112376on June 18, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThis song is about Frank Sinatra, who referred to himself as a "saloon singer". He had setbacks in his career but always bounced back. The attitude--contemptuous, confident, kind of nasty, aware of his gifts and willingness to take risks and do it "his way", are all Sinatra.
    deshackon July 05, 2017   Link

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