This Top 10 Mark Knopfler Songs list presents the best Mark Knopfler Songs including “What It Is” “Boom, Like That,” and many more. Scottish-born but English-raised Mark Knopfler may be well recognized by fans of Dire Straits as the band’s lead guitarist before he embarked on a solo career in 1988. This was when Dire Straits took a hiatus until 1990, a reunion that only lasted five years before the band members went their separate ways again. Prior to becoming a guitarist, recording artist, singer, songwriter, and co-founder of Dire Straits, Knopfler worked as a college lecturer in Leeds, England.
Since becoming a solo performer, Knopfler has recorded and released a total of nine studio albums, two compilation albums, two extended plays (EPs), twenty-two singles, and two music videos. In addition to producing as a solo artist, he has also produced albums for other artists, namely Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, and Tina Turner. He has also collaborated with a number of artists, often featured as a guitarist, a vocalist, or both.
Influence, Inspiration, and Legacy
Mark Knopfler credits his uncle as a key influencer in regards to his decision to pursue a music career. In the 1960s, he performed with a number of bands before finally meeting up with John Illsley and Pick Withers in 1977 to form the musical group fans will recognize best as Dire Straits. The success of the band saw a healthy run of the group until the members parted company with each other to pursue other projects. For Knopfler, his career path led him to become a solo artist and a rather successful one at that. In addition to his uncle’s musical influence, Knopfler was a fan of Chet Atkins, B.B. King, and Elvis Presley.
The first of his studio albums, Golden Heart, was released in 1996 and became certified gold among the nations of Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK. In 2000, Sailing to Philadelphia became his best-selling album as it became certified gold among the nations of Australia, Canada, Finland, the UK, and the UK, as well as platinum in France, Germany, and Switzerland. Multi-platinum certifications were earned in Norway and the Netherlands.
The next six albums, The Ragpicker’s Dream, Shangri-La, Kill to Get Crimson, Get Lucky, Privateering, and Tracker each became, at the very least, certified silver sellers. The final album Knopfler has released was in 2018, titled Down the Road Wherever, which recently became certified gold in Poland. To date, Knopfler has yet to produce an album that has not received official certification of any kind. Each of them has been met with favor by the fans who simply love his music. What’s not to love? Mark Knopfler’s musical talent has him ranked as one of the best entertainers, especially as a guitarist, of all time.
Top 10 Mark Knopfler Songs
#10 – Speedway at Nazareth
“Speedway at Nazareth” came from the album, Sailing to Philadelphia, as a song that seems to have a road race theme in mind but is actually a metaphorical take on life with its ups and downs. As a guitarist, there are very few performers that can match Mark Knopfler’s talent level. The guitar genius is at his best during the mid-way point of this song as a beautiful bridge of riffs speeding to the finish line for the fine-tune it is. The violin involved in “Speedway at Nazareth” added that little extra emotion to one of the best performances Knopfler has ever demonstrated as an artist.
#9 – Sailing to Philadelphia
“Sailing to Philadelphia” was a number seventy-three hit in the Netherlands after it was released as the second single from the album, also titled Sailing to Philadelphia. This was a musical tale that combined real-life experiences from a team of surveyors that were assigned to a project as their story served as a source of inspiration. “Sailing to Philadelphia” makes for a really great tune to listen to while driving down the road, as well as one to just sit in a cozy chair, lay back, and enjoy.
#8 – Done with Bonaparte
Mark Knopfler’s “Done with Bonaparte” served as a genius protest against war song against Napoleon Bonaparte, as well as conquerers just like him. Creatively told without coming across as a half-cocked activist, Mark Knopfler laid out a beautiful performance that ended with a prayerful proclamation worthy of praise as Knopfler’s singing and songwriting talent is just as noteworthy as his guitar works.
#7 – Darling Pretty
In 1996, “Darling Pretty’ served as a gentle musical statement as Mark Knopfler brilliantly allowed listeners to hear a side of the genius guitarist in a manner they never knew existed. With hints of Celtic-style influence embedded into the song, it seemed to add even more beauty to an already exquisite piece of music.
#6 – Border Reiver
In 2009, “Border Reiver” was a song that was performed as if through the eyes of a truck driver. From the album, Get Lucky, this UK-style tribute to the working class citizen was a remarkable mix of Mark Knopfler’s lyrics with his brilliant guitar play as if someone traveling the open and scenic road of freedom.
#5 – Song for Sonny Liston
From the 2004 album, Shangri-La, “Song for Sonny Liston” served as a beautifully told story in musical form only someone as gifted as Mark Knopfler can tell. The tale of a boxer’s life offered a mix of happiness and sadness, like an amusement park ride designed to thrill but give a bit of food for thought as well.
#4 – Boom, Like That
On the US Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay, “Boom, Like That” was a single that peaked at number three after it was released in 2004. From the album, Shangri-La, this song also peaked at number thirty-four on the official UK Singles Chart, marking it as one of two times Mark Knopfler realized a top forty hit in the nation. The inspiration behind this song came from the history of the McDonald’s franchise and its owner, Ray Kroc, offering a brilliant musical performance illustrating all it takes is a simple step forward to bring humble beginnings into something much bigger.
#3 – All the Roadrunning (featuring Emmylou Harris)
Released as a single in 2006, “All the Roadrunning” was a collaboration between Mark Knopfler as the guitarist and Emmylou Harris as the singer. On the UK Singles Chart it was a number eight hit. The slow-style opening of this beautiful song was beautifully complimented as Knopfler’s lyrical story, as usual, was dramatically highlighted by the beauty of his guitar play, as well as Harris’s performance as she demonstrated her musical talent at its finest as well.
#2 – The Ragpicker’s Dream
Both the album and the single, “The Ragpicker’s Dream” is a mark of genius. What makes Mark Knopfler such a huge fan favorite is how each song can be subject to interpretation. It is all about perception, which this song throws in a touch of nostalgia as added flavor to soulful piece, beautifully triggering the imagination of the listener as they embark on a musical dream of their own.
#1 – What It Is
From the album, Sailing to Philadelphia, 2000’s “What It Is” was a number three hit on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Song chart and at least a top forty hit among the nations of Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland. What makes “What It Is” what it is isn’t the complex Dire Straits style of play Mark Knopfler had been known for during his time with the band. Keeping things simple with solid storytelling and genius guitar play has always been the artist’s trademark, something of which became more obvious since he spread out his wings as a solo artist and made his debut as such in 1996.
Feature Photo: silvia / Shutterstock.com
Top 200 article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at end of article.