Mark Knopfler’s Confession About Bob Dylan

The industry is a tiny bubble with more crossovers than most would assume. For instance, when Bob Dylan wanted to change his sound and make it more contemporary, he was on the hunt for someone who could produce his next studio album. Some of the biggest names in the industry were approached, such as David Bowie, Frank Zappa, and Elvis Costello, before Dylan wanted to go with someone he had previously worked with, who was none other than Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler.

Dylan was already familiar with Knopfler as he had played guitar on one of his tracks called ‘Slow Train Coming.’ The two musicians were in the know of each other’s work, so when Dylan decided to hire Knopfler, and he was on board to sink his teeth into the project, the duo started gathering around people to get the ball rolling.

The group of musicians worked endlessly, and it was a quick turnaround since they had started their recording sessions in April, and by the time it was October of the same year, 1983, ‘Infidels’ was released. The album was, in many ways, regarded as some of the best work Dylan had done until that point in his career. However, it also brought controversy because of Dylan’s last-minute tinkering with the selection of songs before releasing the album.

After the album hit the shelves, Knopfler admitted it was challenging to produce Dylan. He said, “You see people working in different ways, and it’s good for you. You have to learn to adapt to the way different people work. Yes, it was strange at times with Bob.”

However, making the album taught him many lessons; he continued, “One of the great parts about the production is that it demonstrates that you have to be flexible. Each song has a secret different from another, and each has its own life. Sometimes it has to be teased out, whereas other times, it might come fast. There are no laws about songwriting or producing. It depends on what you’re doing, not just who you’re doing. You have to be sensitive and flexible, and it’s fun. I’d say I was more disciplined.”

“I think Bob is much more disciplined as a writer of lyrics, as a poet,” concluded Mark. “He’s an absolute genius as a singer—an absolute genius. But musically, I think it’s a lot more basic. The music tends to be a vehicle for that poetry,” explained Knopfler while speaking about Dylan’s strong suit; telling stories with lyrics and using the music to elevate them to another level.

It’s pretty evident in Bob Dylan’s songwriting where he wants to take the audience and what kinds of stories he wants to tell. Even though the last-minute mixing was done without Mark Knopfler, which resulted in some tracks not making it in the album’s final version and the addition of a new song, in the end, it was a hit in the eyes of most fans. Although Knopfler struggled to produce the album, he still admired Dylan’s work throughout the process.