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Mark Knopfler
Mark Knopfler is a unique musical invention, his guitar and singing, a weaving spirit that spoke in a most eloquent tongue. Even if time and circumstances dictate a bleak musical output, Dire Straits will always be remembered with a sense of excitement. There can be no doubt then they have left their impression every street. If not for the others, Mark has…The Record got an exclusive interview transcript with the sultan himself.

The Record: Mark, since your motorcycle accident last March, you seem to have been very productive, both writing songs and then recording the new album in California.
Mark Knopfler: I found myself writing a lot. I was at home and not on the road, so the accident has had a happy side to it. I'm fighting fit now, raring to go.

TR: You've used your regular band and co-produced as usual with Chuck Ainlay.
MK: Yes, Chuck and the band have been ten years or so with me, so we have good shorthand and the same sense of humor. It's a good feeling, a high point for me when we get together. I'll just play them the song on guitar; we talk about it a little bit and then just go and do it.

TR: You're not always a big fan of explaining your song lyrics, are you?
MK: Well, some I can. I try to be as simple and as direct as possible. But sometimes I find the more you try to explain certain songs, the more they can get away from you. And people want to make them their own, into something personal and private, and they do. It's one of the interesting things about it - it moves away from you and becomes theirs after a while. Some songs are easier to talk about than others. There are themes that link a lot of them. I'll sometimes be trying to look at the present by looking at the past. Times change, but people don't. There are plenty of characters - lovers, fighters, fishermen, conmen, showmen, musicians, thieves, politicians.

TR: Some people are going to hear the lyric 'Got shot off my horse, so what, I'm up again' on Everybody Pays and think you're talking about your accident…
MK: Whatever works for you. When you want to sing and dance, when a kid tells me he wants to be a professional musician, I look at him and think well great but I know it's going to kick him sometimes. The highs are high but the lows can be pretty low, too. In that sense it's a little like sport because it's something of a supercharged atmosphere. There's the influence of Hank (Marvin) in my guitar there as there is in Our Shangri-La. That's a song about getting the most out of the here and now.

TR: Amongst all this creativity on your own album, you've also been working on a duet record with Emmylou Harris, haven't you?
MK: Yes, we've managed to get in the odd recording session here and there over the past few years. I hope we can get a record out before too long - it's been so easy to do and Emmy is so fab, so we'll hopefully have that too.

TR: You've been known for your songwriting skills. Tell us the magic secret?
MK: I've been asked what comes first the music or the words about 4000 times and I still don't know the answer. Writing and recording a song is always the most exciting part for me. Once I've recorded a song, it acquires another life of its own, tends to stand up and walk away from me. People who listen to my songs give them their own significance and realities. The song becomes theirs. I don't like to explain too much because it might detract from what the listener hears.

You can read the rest of our feature on Mark Knopfler in the October 2004 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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