Mark Knopfler: A Life in Songs

60 min

Let's go with that.

Mark Knopfler is one of the most successful musicians in the world.

During the past 30 years, he's written and recorded over 300 songs,

including some of the most famous in popular music.

# A love-struck Romeo

# Got his serenade

# Laying everybody low

# With a love song that he made. #

# That ain't working That's the way you do it

# Money for nothing and your chicks for free. #

# You do the walk Do the walk of life

# Yeah, the walk of life. #

# With the sultans

# Yeah, with the sultans of swing. #

# We're fools to make war on our brothers in arms. #

Mark Knopfler has sold over 120 million albums,

both with Dire Straits and as a solo artist,

yet on the afternoon of a sell-out concert in Lisbon,

he's able to sit unrecognised outside a city centre cafe.

For him, it would seem, it is all about the songs.

He doesn't like fame, it's not about the money.

And unlike most artists, he doesn't choose to live in his past.

It's not Dire Straits anymore, but it's still...

It always was him and his songs.

# The chisels are calling

# It's time to make sawdust

# Steely reminders of things left to do

# Monteleone

# Mandolin's waiting... #

I think he's one of the greatest living songwriters going right now.

# My fingerplane's working

# Gentle persuasion

# I bend to the wood and I coax it to sing

# Monteleone, your new one and only will ring

The excitement is the creating - there's nothing like it.

It's the best feeling that there is - when it's working.

# I'm better with my muscles

# Than I am with my mouth

# I work the fairgrounds in summer

# Or go pick fruit down south

# When I feel them chilly winds

# Where the weather goes I'll follow

# Pack up my travelling things

# Go with the swallows

# And I might get lucky now and then

# You win some You might get lucky now and then

# Yeah, you win some... #

I was born in Glasgow because my dad had gone up there to work,

although my mum's family are from Newcastle.

My dad was a refugee and he was Hungarian,

and he came to England in 1939.

He was a firebrand young socialist and he was expelled from Hungary.

He did about three stretches in prison.

He never hurt anybody, of course, he just probably

handed out pamphlets or whatever he did, and he escaped to Czechoslovakia

and he got out of Czechoslovakia and made it to Britain.

Pretty soon after that he got a job in Glasgow.

He wanted to work as a city architect,

he wanted to try and serve society as best he could.

I suppose having a sense of what's right and wrong is just something

that you grow up with in your family, if you're lucky enough to have that.

I really can't say any more than that,

other than that I had a good upbringing.

Both parents did a good job, I like to think. I hope so anyway!

When Mark was eight,

the Knopfler family upped sticks and moved south to Newcastle.

It was here that Mark's love of music was fired up

by his boogie-woogie piano playing Uncle Kingsley.

My mum's brother Kingsley had a banjo and he played boogie-woogie piano.

And the boogie-woogie was very important to me,

because it made a real connection with me.

The sort of big blocks just moved into place,

and I realised that that was for me.

With Uncle Kingsley's boogie-woogie piano ringing in his ears,

and the rapidly-emerging beat group scene,

the young Mark Knopfler soon developed an obsession with guitars.

I used to haunt the music shops long before I even had a guitar.

And the music shops in Newcastle, I knew every inch of them.

I would probably be the little lad in there

who was too nervous to take a guitar down.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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