On Mark Knopfler, Boredom And Matters Such

Mark Knopfler
Mark Knopfler

A friend of relatively recent vintage very kindly shared with me a set of documentaries on various albums released by Mark Knopfler over the years. Nobody has ever accused me of being productive, but things like these destroy whatever little chance there is of I shipping anything out on time.

Mark Knopfler, for those of you lucky enough to not know yet, is a British guitarist and songwriter. A naive introduction to him would be to call him the lead singer for Dire Straits, or the guy who wrote the songs Sultans of Swing and Money for Nothing, but that is barely scratching the surface.

Since going solo, over the last two decades or so, Mark Knopfler has produced some of the finest songs I have had the privilege of listening to. And when I say songs, I mean both the music and the lyrics. If you have about half an hour to spare, allow me to recommend the following: What It Is, Song for Sonny Liston, Boom Like That and Golden Heart. These will finish well within the allotted thirty minutes, but you’ll probably want to listen to them more than once.

As an aside to other Knopfler acolytes, yes, I know I probably didn’t pick your favorites, and yes, it is a sin, and yes, I’m sorry. Pick a time and place, and we’ll spend a very pleasant evening correcting my choices. Beer on me.

Still, people tend to get overbearing when talking about their favourite things, and I mustn’t foist my choices down your throat. What I really wanted to talk about was something he spoke about in one of those documentaries I was talking about earlier.

He said, as an aside in one of them, that he was never really happy and truly satisfied while being the lead singer of Dire Straits, and that the strain of doing all that that entailed – the tours, the fans, the arrangements – it had all gotten a bit too much. Hence his solo career, where he does his own thing, and hang the consequences.

Which is something a lot of successful people tend to say – that their day job was all well and good, but they always wanted to do something to satiate their soul, and it is only when they did that that life gave them what they truly wanted. It’s basically the 3 Idiots philosophy all over again, about doing what you truly love, rather than trying to be successful.

And anybody who is a fan of his work will tell you that the quality of both the songwriting and of the music has gone stratospheric since. He picks issues out of thin air, composes lyrics that contain the very soul of what needs to be said, and arranges around them melodies that could only have been so, and no other way. I know I sound like a fawning doofus, but this is true, I assure you.

What gave me pause (note to youngsters: this is how people of my age say “What blew my mind”) was the rather startling realization that Mark Knopfler’s day job was being the lead singer for Dire Straits. This, being a part of and leading one of the most successful rock bands ever, you understand, bored him.

All of which is to say that I have a new goal in life. I don’t want to (and couldn’t, even if I wanted to) be like Mark Knopfler. But by god, I want to be bored like he’s bored.

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni