‘I Don’t Even Want To Know What Mark Knopfler Went Through,’ Dire Straits Bassist Says

In his interview with VintageRock Pod, Dire Straits bassist John Illsley counted his top five Dire Straits songs. One of the songs he chose was their 1980 track ‘Romeo and Juliet’ from their ‘Making Moves’ album. The bassist explained why he loves this song, and why he loves to perform this song on stage:

“I chose this really because, you’re right, it seems on the surface to be a very simple song. But actually, I’ve played it with quite a few people and now in my band, I’ve got people who really understand how it works. So, it’s got a lot of subtleties in there which are not obvious at any one time to a lot of people who hear it and tend to miss the dynamic, the very subtle dynamic in that song.”

John then identified what kind of a song ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is, and he clarified that he has no intention of learning whether it was written out of Mark Knopfler’s personal experiences:

“And of course, it’s a love song, and it’s a frustrating love song and I don’t even know and I don’t really want to think about what Mark was going through at that particular point in time. It might have been a reflection of where he was at. I knew him pretty well but I didn’t know everything. So I would imagine it was either fictitious or with a bit of personal history there. It doesn’t really matter.”

Illsley then added that the song gets immediate attention when played live:

“The fact of the matter is as soon as people hear that song, I can hear a sort of murmur in the audience and they go ‘Oh, yes. We really want to hear this.'”

In the same interview, John also talked about how Mark and he felt when David Knopfler left the band, emphasising that it was impactful for both him and David’s brother:

“It was very difficult to deal with that situation in many ways. But in a sense, the band didn’t have any alternative. The only way that the band was going to move forward and do what it could really do, which we did, was unfortunately by David leaving. And it was a very sad day for me, a sad day for Mark as well that it didn’t work out. But you know, that’s life and sometimes it happens, these things.”

Below, you can watch the rest of the interview, and listen to ‘Romeo and Juliet.’