Mark Knopfler a Sultan of Swing

say no evilMark Knopfler who the music press named, “The quiet man of rock’, seems to have had a good reason for keeping quiet during the interviews. For Knopfler the lead guitarist of Dire Straits who along with his brother David, who he hasn’t spoken to for thirty six years, and bassist John Illsley formed the rock group in the late 1970s has opened another can of worms that the music industry seems to throw up periodically?.

Though Knopfler was taken aback by the question asked at the P.R.S. plaque unveiling ceremony outside the council house in Deptford South London, that he’d shared with John Illsley before the group became famous, and exclaiming, “That was forty years ago,”. The dynamic master of the electric guitar revealed that he didn’t write the lyrics of the bands debut album Dire Straits.

Though his many fans thought he had, the Sultan of Swing guitarist maintains he has never stated that he himself has ever said that he wrote the lyrics, and points the oversight to the credits on the back sleeve of the album where it misleadingly reads Songs by Mark Knopfler, lyrics kindly reproduced by Straitjacket Songs.

This directs the blame of the oversight on the reporters who were writing about the band in the 70s, who had  presumed he had written the lyrics as well as the songs, and taken their information from the sleeve of the album. Amazingly Knopfler has only been asked twice in a interview regarding the debut album about the lyrics, he answered he liked, “Southbound Again,” as it reminded him of his journey from Newcastle to London where he worked as a lecturer.

Then when the groups second album Communique was released that lyrically had no similarity to the first, when asked about the huge variation between the two, he’d simply replied, “Its different,” and it certainly was and now we know the reason why. Again we can blame the reporters for getting it wrong, unless they hadn’t noticed that Knopfler this time took the credits for the lyrics on Communique as well as the song writing.

Though Edd Bicknell almost did give the game away, when he told a reporter from a well known newspaper The Guardian on March 1999 in a article titled, Where There’s a Hit There’s a Writ, for when he was asked about the debut album, he said “That a guy had whispered the lyrics into Mark Knopfler’s ear, and hoped he wouldn’t be taking them to court,” so if Bicknell hadn’t been told by his star protege that the lyrics were written by someone else, he doesn’t know how close to the truth he came, yet maybe there was a motive behind Bicknell’s slip of the tongue for he wasn’t usually loose with his comments even as a joke?.


He had witnessed the ruthless end of David Knopfler’s career with Dire Straits in 1980, in a studio in America where the band was putting together the music of the album, Making Movies, its said a row started between the two brothers, others say a fight but whatever it was it became a feud that has lasted until this day and it seems unlikely the two brothers will ever make up. And just to rub salt into the wound Mark Knopfler denied any credits and probably money to his younger brother, though David obviously played on the Making Movies talk about sticking the proverbial Six Blade Knife in the back, no wonder Edd Bicknell was also watching his back, he liked David so we can be assured the rumour that Brothers in Arms was written for David is just another myth. Though the meaning of a Sultan of Swing in Scotland, is a Highland Dancer, in English a Chancer, so who was it that whispered into Edd Bicknell’s ear that Mark didn’t write the lyrics, David perhaps?.

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