The Dire Straits Song Mark Knopfler Put A Stolen Lick In
Just when you thought you knew everything about Dire Straits and their enigmatic frontman Mark Knopfler, here’s a little tidbit that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. Dire Straits may be synonymous with rock and roll, but there was a certain collaboration between Knopfler and a country icon that led to not only an unforgettable friendship but also a stolen guitar lick.
In 1993, Mark Knopfler sat down with Guitar magazine to reminisce about his days working with the iconic Chet Atkins on their collaborative album, ‘Neck And Neck.’ Knopfler, who was already well-established in the music industry, took part in the project simply for the love of music and the joy of working with Atkins. The two guitar virtuosos crafted a unique bond through their shared passion, with Knopfler expressing his admiration for Atkins and his endless supply of guitar licks.
During this interview, Knopfler spilled the beans on an intriguing episode that happened during their time together. He revealed that he had ‘borrowed‘ a particular guitar lick from Atkins, which he then wove into a Dire Straits track called ‘When It Comes To You’ included in the band’s 1991 album ‘On Every Street.’ But how did this little secret come to light, and what was the reason behind this creative heist?
When Knopfler admitted to borrowing a lick from Chet for the song ‘When It Comes To You,’ he wasn’t simply confessing to a minor act of musical theft. Instead, he highlighted the invaluable impact that playing with Atkins had on his growth as an artist. By being around Chet, Mark understood the importance of retaining one’s unique identity and absorbed new ideas without compromising his own.
Mark Knopfler’s words about the song he stole a lick for a Dire Straits track read:
“As soon as you play with Chet [Atkins], you realize you might as well forget trying to do Chet’s thing, so I didn’t have to practice especially for it – I just tried to be myself. Playing with Chet was a tremendous privilege because you could steal things and make them your own.
There’s a little lick on ‘When It Comes To You’ that I stole from him – we were playing around in open tuning one day, and he played this great lick. He showed it to me, and I stuck it right into that song. One of the great things about Chet is he’s got piles of these little licks. If you’re recording with him, I would just wait around until he comes up with something and then learn it from him.”
So, a seemingly innocuous jam session between two musicians led to a borrowed lick that found its way into a Dire Straits song. As Atkins was known to be one of Mark’s greatest sources of inspiration, it’s not surprising that the rocker was eager to learn the secrets of the trade from the country icon.
As we come to the end of this tale, it’s worth considering the impact that collaborations like the one between Knopfler and Chet Atkins can have on an artist’s creative journey. The exchange of ideas and techniques between these two guitar giants not only enriched their own playing but also left an indelible mark on the music they created.