Tracker. A chronicle of life. A personalized one, as it tracks through Knopfler’s past, and as the mind flows through the songs there is room for each of us to find ourselves in some of the musical notes and stories being sent across the strings. It is a chronicle of melancholy and identity, in search of past times and distant striking memories. These are the times of a true troubadour of life, one that has tracked us through some marvelous sound experiences, and is now sending time back to uncover some compelling feelings and allow us to reconnect to the old tunes and times.
A wanderer, a story teller, Knopfler has a fantastic track record, guitar picking like no other, either alongside Dire Straits or riding the creative wave on a solo trip. There are millions of people that can connect in life through his music, that have declared happiness as an experience lived though the notes of the Sultans… or the Brother…
It is good to see new tracks coming to life, from such a long-standing and accomplished musician, one that fills the concert arenas in no time. But this experience hits the melodic Tracker right on the play button, as it reawakens the memory and melodic resonance that Dire Straits and Knopfler had created for us. Not too many artists have hit the live stats of Brother In Arms tour of 1985-1986. They swept the hearts and feelings from fans across the world, culminating with a series of concerts on the Wembley stadium in London, to include the much remembered Live Aid.
Tracker opens up with Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes, what better way to open up an album for remembering the times of youth and joy, a common form of careless happiness that is always good to look back towards.
Popularity is there and was guaranteed from the likes of Money for Nothing, but behind that guitar riff that rivals Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water on imprint, there is a subtle tonality cut on a substantial story that comes across through the waves of songs like Private Investigations or Telegraph Road. Invariably, all the songs culminate with some outstanding guitar interpretations that mend the lyrics and the other instruments into a well assembled package.
Basil Bunting, a poet that is, comes up next in the lineup of memories. A man who stuck to Knopfler’s memory as a striking presence of boredom and unhappiness, while on the job at a Newcastle newspaper The Chronicle, where as a young copy boy, Knopfler was earning five cigarettes and two silver half crowns.
On what inspires Mark Knopfler there is much to be said, as one always gets the feeling that behind each and every song there is a story to be told, a feeling thrown out of a string and expressed in such a way to get the audience closer to the happening. This is real life captured into the compositions.
“The things that broke my heart when I was a kid, and I would write songs about, still do now. I still write about the same sorts of things. Essentially ordinary people, Making something of it can be quite difficult sometimes. But I’m eternally grateful for having that as my rather strange occupation”
Skydiver is a beatlesque, happy journey, it keeps the promise going and instills a diving desire into the sky of well being. It sure does make the old bell ring. Those Broken Bones come then with a feel-good rythm and jumping with joy to a fluid, not broken, atmosphere, a somewhat recurring theme in notes from past compositions like No Can Do from the Golden Heart album.
The Brothers In Arms tour had Dire Straits perform in 234 shows in a year, singing their lives away to audiences of about 2.5 million.The grandeur that existed in through these concerts, parties and globetrotting of Brother in Arms, has certainly brought fame and a definitive affirmation of Dire Straits as the unique band that we all know. But the continuous generation and setup of a mass-production concert stages, required a lot of effort and a slow dissipation of one’s personality for a while. It was a well mended and oiled music machine, drawn more and more towards perfection, but one does senses that Knopfler felt invaded and removed from being himself while being exposed to such magnitudes. Sure the experience was overwhelming and of immense success but could not last forever, nor that it has or it was desired to be so. Going big had a high price to pay. But the album will remain in a lot of people’s heartbeat tracks for a long time.
Tracker continues with tributes to two personalities that had an impact into Knopfler’s life – Bob Dylan and Dame Beryl Bainbridge. Rememberance of things past bring the contemplation of a song through the lines and lights of Taormina, a small Sicilian town with grand history. The story tells as the emperor now sits and absorbs the world from above after conquering arenas filled with thousands of voices. This is yet another tracker of time that goes back a long distance, when Dylan and Knopfler first played together in Los Angeles in 1979 on the First Train Coming album.
He hears the chimes of history
Myths of gods and men forever ringing
Ancient dreams in all their mystery
Wars for Sicily and Spartan women
In the mists of antiquity
Ships of war set sail from Carthagina
Now he’s sitting out in the night
Looking down upon the lights of Taormina
Beryl Bainbridge enabled Mark Knopfler to bring back the tracks and sounds of Dire Strait. The song is very much composed through the notes and acoustics of the Sultans of Swing. It certainly triggers a reconnection, a part of the brain gets reawakened like a call for echo from the past. Beryl, a novelist from Liverpool, nominated five times for the Booker Prize to only eventually receive it posthumously triggered an affinity with Knopfler, who also majored in literature and enjoyed her writings. The connection sure comes from the simple, poor folk that Bainbridge represents, with a substantial story to tell.
A bonus song on the Tracker hits with a nice surprise entitled Terminal of Tribute, it does come well and it has some nice rounded edges and a good variations on the rythm and flow. It is somewhat a reminder of another second-hand-last-part song Rüdiger, of the Golden Heart album, that is in as touching and authentic.
Rüdiger stands in the rain and the snow
Collector of autographs
Names upon photographs
Faces of people who everyone knows
Rüdiger lives in a place on his own
Briefcase and spectacles
Strange and respectable
He knows the meaning of being alone
And while Knopfler holds an undisputed talent at handling his guitar, what turns the knob towards people is in the feelings that errupt from his compositions, the sequence of notes and the memorable, remarkable finger picked strings. We are made to live and breathe on this earth through feelings and emotions, and many hearts have been touched as the songs were capable of transmitting a wave that opens up souls and allows for the sentiment to vibe and the spirit to reverberate forever in tune.
Well it is a Tunnel of Love that this Sultan of Swing has given us. We all walked the Telegraph Road in search for some clues of our own Private Investigations. So Why Worry when there’s Love over Gold that is not So Far Away from us. There is a Communique out there to stay together as Brothers in Arms and enjoy the Laughs and Jokes and the ages of the Golden Heart that is there for us to reach out to. So let’s go Down to the Waterline.