Mark Knopfler is an often-overlooked guitar virtuoso, with impressive credentials in both Dire Straits and his solo career. Here are his top tracks, ahead of his new album release; One Deep River 


Sultans of Swing 


And swing it does, with such swagger and poised inflection, that it’s famously hard to play on the guitar. Rumour has it that Mark hasn’t played it the same twice, always opting for an improvised lick progression. The song has an instantly recognisable signature, with an enticing introduction and hook base that presents itself in numerous iterations to keep the listener engaged.  The song is characterised by the cleanest array of licks and it’s just a delight to unpack all the small nuances and rich tones that Mark pulls from his guitar.  




Going Home: (Theme of The Local Hero) 


A western aesthetic paired with a triumphant progression, and you get Mark Knopfler’s seminal instrumental piece. This song really shows off Knopfler’s composition skills, in marrying a call and response ensemble between slippery electric guitar, keyboard and saxophone. It does exactly what an instrumental song is meant to do without the aide of vocals – tell a clear story. The song very clearly matches the sentiment of going back to your origins and the feeling of belonging. It has this beautiful quality of encompassing warmth and welcome. Check it out.  





Twisting By The Pool 


An infectious uplifting bop, this one has a post-war 50s era aesthetic that lends its listener to jive. The song is a bit of a hidden gem, as it doesn’t seem to have the exposure or notoriety that other songs from Mark have, perhaps because of its simplicity. However, this song is so fun that it would be rude to leave it out of this list. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, this one will sure do the trick.  




Walk Of Life 


Something of an American sports anthem, this song has founded a league of its own. The cherry keyboard and backing vocals really elevates the feel-good nature of this one. Mark’s “woo-hoo’s” are perhaps the unsung hero! “He got the action, he got the motion / Oh, yeah, the boy can play” is iconic and has become a real sing-a-long number for that reason. It’s truly occupying a space of popular culture that can’t be replicated or imitated. Epitome 80s, yet timeless.  




Sailing To Philadelphia 


Taking on a country-tinged plucking style on this classic solo number from Knopfler, this self-reflective piece tells a story about endeavour and exploration. Mark croons about venturing out and finding a new environment. This song sounds encouraging and provides a calming sense about growth, courageously going out into the unknown, following the American dream perhaps. This song holds nice space and with its minimalist guitar licks, bringing about a gorgeous blossom of soundscape.  




Private Investigations 


This one is a slow burn, but one worth giving the time of day, as it builds to fantastic rapturous blows that are hard to find elsewhere. Taking risk in its song structure, the song plays on a film noir theme, to double down on a broody narrative about crime. There are distinct moments of pause, consideration, reflection, and response. The track is a masterclass in setting tone with the acoustic guitar, to then switch gear with the striking electric, satisfying to say the least.  





What It Is 


Mark keeps it real on ‘What It Is’, giving in to acceptance and making a statement about it. Violin helps to carry this one and of course we get Mark’s guitar to guide us all the way. The solo in the middle is tempered, as he holds back on letting it all bare. The coda of the song does a brilliant job at extrapolating the feeling in the solo and finding a more pronounced crescendo. It’s a lovely finish to the song and hits the nail on the head with getting to terms with what is.  




Wild West End 


Love songs, are something Mark composes very well. ‘Wild West End’, has this tender and content feel about it, that is so palpable. The arrangement of the steel guitar, the piano and slide guitar, create such a calming energy in the song. The sentiment about our narrator’s lover, simply being a best friend, is exactly what it should be like, and for that, it’s a reassuring listen.  




Money For Nothing 


An 80s classic, this one stands out so clearly, as it asserts itself with one of the greatest introduction ascensions into the rock amphitheatre ever heard. What’s the song about? You be the judge. It’s an endlessly fun song, as you marvel at the tale of selling whiteware and some odd musings about sceptical worthy personal relations. It’s the epitome of the 80’s music evolution, merging traditional rock with synth-based electronic dance. Make sure you listen to the full version from Brothers In Arms, the extra-long run time is worth every penny.





Romeo And Juliet 


A love song, but this time of the yearning sadness and gaping realisation “it was just that the time was wrong”. This one herald’s Mark’s prowess with 1930s steel body guitars. Knopfler has a knack for choosing his guitar to suit the song and serves it beautifully. The steel guitar choice evokes this nostalgia and sentimental timbre, appropriate for this song. Its grounded and whole sounding. Playing on the literature of the same name from Shakespeare, we are given this modern take on classical romance. It simply can’t be missed, for its intimate and interestingly bold presentation.  




Boom, Like That 


This song takes on an early Straits sound, with more of a toe-tapper rhythm. It’s proud and confident, promoting a narrative about having to sometimes be a little selfish in this “dog eat dog; rat eat rat” world. Realities of ‘making it’ are presented in a tongue and cheek style, with perhaps more authentic cheek than meets the ear. The main hook in the chorus is just too catchy to pass up.  




Private Dancer 


Mark wrote Tina Turner’s stunner ‘Private Dancer’. It’s got that iconic smooth tempo and energy build that Knopfler is known for. The progression resembles the likes of ‘Private Investigations’ or ‘Love Over Gold’. It’s a song about music itself, which has a natural appeal. It has a very similar vibe to other Knopfler staples in its presentation, with a keyboard and piano bedrock, with a jazzy finish. Of course, it’s a Tina Turner classic, just showing that Mark can bring his formula and apply it to another style, to lead a diva to further fame. The highlight would be Mark’s sublime guitar embellishment around the bridge, which is a fitting way to elevate the song on its way out.