Mark Knopfler's New Album
Mark Knopfler has a new album out titled "Shangri-La". Considering he might have been in Shangri-La after his motorcycle accident in March 2003, he seemed in great spirits when I interviewed him last week (October 2004). The 54 year-old rocker was riding his Honda motorcycle to rehearsals for an upcoming tour when he was hit by a Fiat and thrown. Final score... Fate: six broken ribs, one broken collarbone; Knopfler: one sizable new outlook on life. A deep thinker if his lyrics are any indication, Mark seemed philosophical and upbeat.
In Malibu where he recorded the album, Mark was hot and heavy in the middle of the publicity ramp-up that now accompanies the release of every major album. Rock and roll is a business these days. It's a lot more than throwing the band together and making music. Maybe that's why so much of music really sucks. Not everyone has the looks, talent, ability to communicate with strangers and thick-skin required to be a rocker. Elvis Presley came by these talents naturally and there has been only one of him. So I always wonder about these guys when they have to talk to me. Do they enjoy this as much as I do? Are the questions intelligent? Lucky for me, Mark is a pro at this, but read the new autobiography on Bob Dylan. The press was a huge inconvenience for Bob.
Mark gave me a guided tour of the new CD. I asked the questions and Mark played along. And there is a San Diego tie on "Shangri-La."
"Shangri-La", like every album that’s released by a major label, has a "PRIORITY" song on it. This song is not always the artist's choice; usually it is the song the record label feels has the broadest appeal. The song on the Knopfler album is "BOOM, Like That." It’s a deceptive little ditty that lulls you to sleep with its bouncy rhythm, signature Knopfler guitar flourishes, and Mark's hypnotic deep voice.
If you don’t pay attention to the lyrics, you’ll miss the fun. Don’t worry, I didn’t notice it until, the third time through. The song tells the story of Ray Kroc (like crocodile … with a K - the McDonalds man).
It's really a great story. I'm probably like most San Diegan's when it comes to Ray Kroc. Before he was Ray, the philanthropist, owner of the Padres, and McMogul, he was selling milkshake mixers in San Berdoo.
The rest is history. I asked Mark how he came to write a song about Ray Kroc. And it turns out that Mark heard an interview with Ray and became fascinated with him. He read the Kroc biography "Grinding It Out". And said that the song wrote itself.
If you are a Mark Knopfler fan looking for a Dire Straits sound, you will not find it in this new album. You will find understated guitars and storytelling that has become the strength of the former Dire Straits front man.
This isn't the only history-based song on the album, but it is the only one that has a San Diego connection. And while Mark told me that he doesn't like to write cynically, I think he was actually being tongue in cheek.