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Author Topic: Times interview on "Down the Road Wherever"  (Read 4505 times)

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Times interview on "Down the Road Wherever"
« on: November 12, 2018, 11:57:10 AM »


  • David Knopfler
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Re: Times interview on "Down the Road Wherever"
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2018, 12:01:36 PM »
Mark Knopfler says he might have to slow down a bit soon, which must be why he’s just announced a 2019 world tour of a mere five months and 82 dates. Or why he was only able to come up with about 30 songs for consideration for his new album, and roughly the same again for the Local Hero musical that opens in March.
“It should be less, I know it should be less,” he says, almost apologising for his prolific output in his 70th year. “But it gets quite hard to leave behind what you’ve had such fun making.”

Down the Road Wherever is the ninth solo studio album by the former Dire Straits figurehead. Three years on from his previous record, Tracker, it’s another captivating accumulation of vividly told, consummately played narratives spun from real life, including his own. Retaining the acoustic nucleus to which he gradually returned after the often uncomfortable burlesque of his rock-star days, the record adds considerably more light and shade, with the inclusion of a slinky Steely Dan edge (Back on the Dance Floor, featuring Imelda May), 3AM chanson (When You Leave), Jamaican lilt (Heavy Up) and, oh, a co-write with Rodgers and Hammerstein.
That improbable combination occurs on Just a Boy Away from Home, which typifies Knopfler’s authorial ability to zero in on a detail from everyday life and get a song from it. “That was inspired by something that happened to my dad,” he tells me at his beloved British Grove Studios, in west London. “He had a heart attack shortly after he retired, and he was in Newcastle General Hospital, which as any Geordie will know is close to St James’ Park, the football ground.
“He said he was lying there at night feeling a bit sorry for himself, and heard a lad walking on the street outside, singing You’ll Never Walk Alone. Thinking about it over the years I realised that, of course, he was a Liverpool fan and he’d been to the match. My dad found it inspiring, the bravery and the spirit of it, and I tied it up with being a kid and not understanding things that can mean something else later on.”
After setting up the story on the track, Knopfler picks up his slide and starts on the timeless melody from Carousel. Soon, you realise it’s not just a cameo. “It just felt good to play it,” he says. “And I thought, ‘I’ve started, so I may as well finish.’”
This far removed from the mania of a rock institution that threatened to relieve him of his musical marbles, he is in the mood to reminisce with affection about his Dire Straits days. But that may not have appeared the case earlier this year, when Knopfler was criticised for “snubbing” the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

He stuck to his guns then, and still does. “I think it’s fantastic recognition, it’s really cool to be in the Hall of Fame. The thing I objected to was being told how it was all going to be done. ‘You’re going to do this, then you’re going to do these interviews.’ I thought, ‘No, I’m not.’ It wasn’t my way of going about doing something like that.”
His fondness for the band’s history manifests itself in other ways. Down the Road Wherever takes its title from a line in the album track One Song at a Time, inspired by Knopfler’s late friend Chet Atkins, who once said that was how he picked his way out of poverty.
“That song refers to the beginning of the Dire Straits time, and what it was like to be in Deptford, in John and David’s little flat [the bassist John Illsley and David Knopfler, Mark’s brother and the band’s original rhythm guitarist], where I started staying when we were putting the little group together. Now it’s got a plaque on the door. I thought they would have pulled that place down a long time ago.
“We used to do that whole Rock Garden, Hope & Anchor circuit, where you had to load the gear in through the coal hole on the pavement,” he goes on. “Then the crowds started getting bigger, the queues going up the stairs to the street and down the block. I remember doing a residency at the Marquee Club. It was so hot, I used to spray the audience with sweat, because I wasn’t wearing a headband. Keith Moon was there — he was off his head. And Sid Vicious was there — he was off his. We had a little red Fender guitar badge, and Sid really wanted one.”
A Sex Pistol at a Dire Straits gig: not quite the punk revolution of received wisdom. Equally incongruously, Knopfler had been at the Pistols’ famous gig at the 100 Club in 1976. Famous, but perhaps less momentous than history has told us.
“I was meeting a girl there, we were just having a drink at the bar, and they happened to be on,” he remembers. “There wasn’t even a crowd, and they weren’t loud. There was a tiny little knot of people and a girl with a notebook ostentatiously walking around, a reporter-supporter, in this sort of trouser suit, with her notebook held up, pretending to write in it.”
Until a few years earlier, the reporter’s notebook was Knopfler’s own stock in trade. During his early years in bands, he studied journalism at Harlow Tech, as it then was, before joining the Yorkshire Evening Post. Music won his battle of the professions, but not before a memorable last assignment. On his final day on the paper, Jimi Hendrix died.

“I’m sitting in the press room at Leeds town hall, doing court reporting, and I was already wondering what I was going to say to everybody in the office, because I was leaving.” Then his news editor rang. Knopfler adopts a thick Yorkshire accent to continue the tale. “‘Hello, Mark? Are you there, lad? This bloke Jimmy Henderson. He’s died. Did you know him?’
“‘Oh no, that’s terrible.’ ‘Well, anyway, I’ll give you five minutes, I’ll have to put you on to copy.’ So I filed a few lines about Jimi, who mattered a great deal to me, as you can imagine. Then I just walked across to the office, said my goodbyes and left.”
Journalism’s loss, and so on. But Knopfler believes newspaper training has been invaluable in his storytelling. “It teaches you to get yourself organised, and to have a beginning, a middle and an end. It gives a kid a real crash course in society and how it works. I had no clue. ‘OK, this is called an inquest.’ ‘What’s that?’ ”
The stage incarnation of Local Hero, based on Bill Forsyth’s memorable 1983 film, for which Knopfler wrote the first of his many movie soundtracks, has provided another new challenge. “I didn’t think I’d ever be in that bag,” he confides. “Film is instrumental — you might get the occasional ditty, but it’s a different deal. This is like doing a more intense version of a Rubik’s Cube, because there are so many more variables. But I love the story, it moves me. Even in these little workshops, when it gets to the end, I find myself moved.”
His descriptive instincts stay strong to the conclusion of Down the Road Wherever, with the autobiographical Matchstick Man another affectionate glance to his salad days. “Yeah, that’s me. A young idiot with a guitar and a bag, climbing up into trucks and hitchhiking, trying to get back from a gig in Penzance one Christmas Eve. I got into a lorry, then got a lift up the old A1, and he let me off in the Midlands somewhere,” he recalls. “We said goodbye, I jumped down and the sun was shining. It was snow everywhere, and I could see for miles all around. There was no traffic, nobody.
“I just had my silly little guitar in my bag, and I’m standing there with this realisation of what I’d chosen as a profession. It wasn’t for a while after that that I managed to get a little platform for the songs going. But I was doing exactly what I wanted to do.”

Down the Road Wherever is released on British Grove/Mercury on Friday. Local Hero opens at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, on March 19.
"I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order."


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Re: Times interview on "Down the Road Wherever"
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2018, 02:25:13 PM »
finally some new info!!!
keith moon!!! and Sid Vicious!! at a Straits concert? Mark (happening to be) at a Sex pistols concert???
sweet...want more..
any Knopfler, Floyd or Dylan will do....


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Re: Times interview on "Down the Road Wherever"
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2018, 07:53:17 PM »
Thanks dmg, nice article there..... :wave
* Mark Knopfler & Joe Bonamassa - NOT just a hobby, but a way of life!

* Owner of Two Fender 'Mark Knopfler' Signature Series Stratocaster's (SE00616 & SE03805) both with signed Fender labels after meeting MK at Bridport, Dorset UK on the 27/09/2013!


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