Born in Glasgow, Scotland, David Knopfler grew up in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the Northeast of England. With a guitar, a piano, and a drum kit by age 11, it’s not surprising to find he’s mastered many of the instruments he uses on his recordings. By fourteen, David was performing his own songs in folk clubs. Despite a college degree and a brief stint as a social worker, he can’t recall any other aspirations beyond composing and playing music. In 1977 David founded Dire Straits, and with brother Mark recorded three albums, touring the stadium circuit extensively, before resigning to follow his own path as an independent singer-songwriter. “In the Straits I learned how to translate the intimate from the bedroom to the arena. Since leaving I’ve been wondering how you put the genie back in the bottle. I’m still interested in the way the personal can also translate lyrically to universal themes, but hopefully with less hoopla and distraction.” For more than three decades he’s faithfully pursued his musical vision, writing and producing his own music on thirteen solo CDs to date, writing underscores for television and movies, and authoring a “Bluffer’s Guide” and a book of poetry along the way.
David creates songs of substance: They are, by turns, deep and captivating, elegant and thought-provoking, his exquisite sense of melody blending effortlessly with clever, gripping lyrics. More attentive listeners might even find themselves decoding the frequent buried references David includes, as in “Jericho” (Wishbones, 2002), where he cleverly conceals the titles of all his previous album titles in the lyrics. “I now make my work for that special someone willing to make time to listen quietly to the music and be reflective. It’s the listener who makes the creative connections and finds their personal story. Like any artist, I need the work to excite and involve me, but I also hope my songs provide a vehicle for the listener to put themselves centre stage and relate to the emotions and ideas.”
David has always made uncompromising life choices. His relaxed but disciplined approach to both work and life is indicative of Knopfler’s entire philosophy. David believes in defining success without reference to fame and in finding happiness without hype or glory, preferring to choose the low road and the substance of real work and the loyalty of real friendships and relationships to those more fashion-conscious, ephemeral insecurities that so beset the pop glitterati. “I’m committed to what I do and to everyone feeling fulfilled by what we create together. I believe inevitably our solidarity as artists communicates positively in the work, whatever the project.”
Knopfler has been fortunate enough to reach a wide audience without compromising his art. While he’s enjoyed the respect and admiration of his musical peers, widespread critical acclaim, international awards and worldwide chart successes, he’s managed to keep a profile so low as to be almost invisible in his home country. An occasional panelist at music conventions and a lifelong supporter of organisations like Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Reprieve, David is more prone to sending a cheque than using charities to further his own publicity. He lives quietly in the English countryside with his family, notching up an impressive list of writing credits. David says, “I don’t regard what I do as remotely glamorous. I write and record music because I completely love doing it.”