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Mark Knopfler — What It Is
Album: Sailing to Philadelphia
Avg rating:
8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 3662









Released: 2000
Length: 4:46
Plays (last 30 days): 2
The drinking dens are spilling out
There's staggering in the square
There's lads and lasses falling about
And a crackling in the air
Down around the dungeon doors
The shelters and the queues
Everybody's looking for
Somebody's arms to fall into

It's what it is
It's what it is now

There's frost on the graves and the monuments
But the taverns are warm in town
People curse the government
And shovel hot food down
Lights are out in the city hall
The castle and the keep
The moon shines down upon it all
The legless and the sleepless

Cold on the tollgate
With the wagons creeping through
Cold on the tollgate
God knows what I could do with you

It's what it is
It's what it is now

The Garison sleeps in the citadel
With the ghost and the ancient stones
High on the parapet
A Scottish piper stands alone
High on the wind
The highland drums begin to roll
And something from the past just comes
And stares into my soul

Cold on the tollgate
With the Caledonian Blues
Cold on the tollgate
God knows what I could do with you

It's what it is
It's what it is now
What it is
It's what it is now now

There's a chink of light, there's a burning wick
There's a lantern in the tower
Wee Willie Winkie with a candlestick
Still writing songs in the wee wee hours
On Charlotte Street
I take a walking stick from my hotel
The ghost of Dirty Dick
Is still in search of Little Nell

It's what it is
It's what it is now
Oh what it is
What it is now now now
Comments (429)add comment
Oh ya that guitar!!!
He has such a gift. 
that guitar, though. so great. nobody plays like him.
 Milanche wrote:
Pure perfection. Knopfler don't have any single bad song but some of them are perfection. Like this one, for sure.
 
Agree 100%. Absolutely fantastic song.
Pure perfection. Knopfler don't have any single bad song but some of them are perfection. Like this one, for sure.
 Grayson wrote:
Sigh. Yet again I look at a prized song's lyrics then kinda wish I'd not. Could have always sworn "Is still in search of Little Nell" was "Is still in search of  Villanelle." And given the delicious, currently-running "Killing Eve" story-series on TV and its jaw-droppingly great portrayal of the character Villanelle by Jodie Comer, well... yeah, a bit of a disappointment there. Why I advise never reading Mark Knopfler's (and R.E.M.'s) songs' lyrics. 






 
Could the little Nell be the Charles Dicken's character from Old Curiosity Shop?

 Grayson wrote:
Sigh. Yet again I look at a prized song's lyrics then kinda wish I'd not. Could have always sworn "Is still in search of Little Nell" was "Is still in search of  Villanelle." And given the delicious, currently-running "Killing Eve" story-series on TV and its jaw-droppingly great portrayal of the character Villanelle by Jodie Comer, well... yeah, a bit of a disappointment there. Why I advise never reading Mark Knopfler's (and R.E.M.'s) songs' lyrics.
 
You're disappointed that Knopfler failed to predict a character on Killing Eve (not to mention Killing Eve itself) some 14 years prior to the original source material?
Every time this plays I think to myself "it's the Wee Willie Winkie" song.
Happy birthday, on 8/9/19, in advance, to this great guitarist and composer 

Birth nameMark Freuder KnopflerBorn12 August 1949 (age 69)
 Tomasni wrote:
Idem. {#Notworthy}
 

Sigh. Yet again I look at a prized song's lyrics then kinda wish I'd not. Could have always sworn "Is still in search of Little Nell" was "Is still in search of  Villanelle." And given the delicious, currently-running "Killing Eve" story-series on TV and its jaw-droppingly great portrayal of the character Villanelle by Jodie Comer, well... yeah, a bit of a disappointment there. Why I advise never reading Mark Knopfler's (and R.E.M.'s) songs' lyrics. 






No ones guitar sounds like his
Long Live                                                                                                                                      Radio Paradise
THANK YOU Mark Knopfler for  What It Is      Rating to me is                      9-OUTSTANDING     
 jmkate wrote:
Such a good album..

 
MK is such a fantastic story teller.  Although I do wish he would tear it up a little more like he used to with Dire Straits.  It would be nice to hear more than moderately paced ballads from him again.
This was MK solo at its best. Have been a BIG fan since his Dire Straits days. Saw him touring with Eric Clapton (together on stage) way back in the early 90s and he was brilliant then, and then again back on his Get Lucky album. What a showman he is. And his band is as tight as they get. Play more Mark!
Such a good album..
 CHuLoYo wrote:
Godlike to the heaven 

 
HA!  Indeed. 

Talent is God's answer to the eternal question:  "What do I do with my life?" 

You have only to take it and use it to entertain the source that gave it to you.  And by association the rest of us, too.  I'd say MK's done a good job in that regard, eh?  

Highlow
American Net'Zen


 Cannon wrote:
Got here from Kate Bush...thanks, PSD!!!

 
Kate deserves better, but you could have done a lot worse.
 Stratocaster wrote:

Except, MK is not really associated with the Tele. He was mostly a Stratocaster player in the early days, Les Paul in the middle and Pensa in later years. He is now also playing Monteleone handmade guitars from New York.

I've seen him play a Tele a few times but his "Mark Knopfler sound" really comes from the Strat (think 'Sultans') and Les Paul (think 'Brothers In Arms'). 

 
Now there's a  person who is a guitar afficionado {#Guitarist}
Unworthy thought........or a Fender Bender.
One of the best knopfler solo tracks.
 {#Daisy}

flutgos wrote:

We care about your political views.

 


 nance wrote:
listen to that guitar {#Bananajam} kinda makes me forget about trump and feel happy
 
We care about your political views.
Got here from Kate Bush...thanks, PSD!!!
 nance wrote:
listen to that guitar {#Bananajam} kinda makes me forget about trump and feel happy
 
Great memories of this tour {#Bananajam}
listen to that guitar {#Bananajam} kinda makes me forget about trump and feel happy

 Ahnyer_Keester wrote:
I kind of feel like I should get on a Mark Knopfler subscription service that just automatically buys me every album he makes as soon as it comes out. Just love this guy's sound. 

 
Me too. Radio Paradise has my permission to play Knopfler at least once an hour.
I kind of feel like I should get on a Mark Knopfler subscription service that just automatically buys me every album he makes as soon as it comes out. Just love this guy's sound. 
 Dog_Ear wrote:
I have a HUGE collection of telecaster slayers. MK still my favorite.

 
Except, MK is not really associated with the Tele. He was mostly a Stratocaster player in the early days, Les Paul in the middle and Pensa in later years. He is now also playing Monteleone handmade guitars from New York.

I've seen him play a Tele a few times but his "Mark Knopfler sound" really comes from the Strat (think 'Sultans') and Les Paul (think 'Brothers In Arms'). 

 S-curvy wrote:  


VV wrote:


Looks like this playlist from Feb. is being repeated right now (more or less)...

 
And again. But who cares.


Godlike to the heaven 
I'm away off to the civilised country North of the Border soon, and this really gets me into the mood. It immediately evokes to me a frosty Saturday night in Auld Reekie, and people stuffed into pubs drinking Deuchar's and 80/- chased with uisge beatha. Embra is a great place to be out at night, particularly outside of the tourist season.

Knopfler is absolutely brilliant at describing everyday life and things in poetry. He could sing about emptying the bins and grab my attention.
 fran_tarkenton wrote:
Ahh Rick MacInnes-Rae, another casualty of the Harper damn regime ! 

 
Yes, they should have run deeper deficits.
Ahh Rick MacInnes-Rae, another casualty of the Harper damn regime ! 
I have a HUGE collection of telecaster slayers. MK still my favorite.
I usually shy away from any guitar heavy music, but his style is an absolute pleasure!
 NCEyeballKid wrote:
Not a Mark Knopfler fan until this album came out. Had to rethink everything after this.  

 
Took me a while to warm to him as well, now he's one of my favorite artists.

One of those rare musicians who just "own" their instrument. His tone and style are always distinctive. 
Another great road trip album...
Rick McInnis Ray!
 

 S-curvy wrote: 

Looks like this playlist from Feb. is being repeated right now (more or less)...
 ppopp wrote:
A tremendously annoying tune is what it is. Sounds like gerbils falling out of spaghetti clouds onto Land Rovers.

 
Where?  On the east shore of Lake Turkana?    (Lake Rudolph for the really ancient among you.)
Not a Mark Knopfler fan until this album came out. Had to rethink everything after this.  
 ppopp wrote:
A tremendously annoying tune is what it is. Sounds like gerbils falling out of spaghetti clouds onto Land Rovers.

 
That's a fun simile. Now draw it ;-)
oh yeah,
 Cyclehawk wrote:
Never get tired of this one... turning it up!
 

 
...... me to
Never get tired of this one... turning it up!
 
A tremendously annoying tune is what it is. Sounds like gerbils falling out of spaghetti clouds onto Land Rovers.
 mdnlsn wrote:
This song was used as an intro theme for the now-defunct CBC radio show "Dispatches" in Canada. Once a song has been used that way, I can never shake that sense when I hear it. So, please never use great songs as theme songs!
 
With all respect, are we supposed to use the crappy songs?
Good hunting Mark! Old guitars never die...
Brilliant segue from Sarah Slean - Euphoria. {#Clap}
 mdnlsn wrote:
This song was used as an intro theme for the now-defunct CBC radio show "Dispatches" in Canada. Once a song has been used that way, I can never shake that sense when I hear it. So, please never use great songs as theme songs!

 
But Dispatches was a great show! I for one don't mind being reminded of it from time to time.
This song was used as an intro theme for the now-defunct CBC radio show "Dispatches" in Canada. Once a song has been used that way, I can never shake that sense when I hear it. So, please never use great songs as theme songs!
I never tire of hearing this song!  Knopfler rocks!!{#Boohoo}
 fredriley wrote:

Since when is "daring" an essential requirement for music? And it sure is interesting to those of us who know and love Edinburgh as it's so evocative of Auld Reekie. 9 from the Albaphile Nottingham jury.

 
From my neck of the woods (spray of the surf?), this guy is simply a major talent.  Has been for quite awhile. 9 indeed.

I like the phrase understated elegance to describe Mark's guitar style. This song typifies the refinement of his skill. As far as the lyrics go, there is magic in the mundane. One just needs to know how to look at it.


I love this whole album, but IMO "What It Is" is one of the weaker tracks. If you want to rock out, try "Speedway at Nazareth."
I'm so in love with the smooth jazzy sound of his guitar. For me the best fingerpicker out there. So much feeling and variation in every single note. His deep mellow voice compliments it all :)
 fredriley wrote:

Since when is "daring" an essential requirement for music? And it sure is interesting to those of us who know and love Edinburgh as it's so evocative of Auld Reekie. 9 from the Albaphile Nottingham jury.

To Right, I'm back on Prince Street with my swag.
 


 rdo wrote:
There is not one daring element to this music.  It's about as uninteresting as it gets.  Lacks any imagination.  Suffocating.  In a word - stuffy.

 
If these lyrics don't work for you, it's probably because you prefer Amy Winehouse' song with the same title - go for it.
The drinking dens are spilling out There's staggering in the square There's lads and lasses falling about And a crackling in the air Down around the dungeon doors The  shelters and the queues Everybody's  looking for Somebody's arms to fall  into It's what it is That's what it is now There's frost on the graves and the monuments But the taverns are warm in town People curse the government And  shovel hot food down The lights are  out in the city hall The castle and  the keep The moon shines down upon  it all The legless and the  sleepless Cold on the  tollgate With the wagons creeping  through Cold on the  tollgate God knows what I could do  with you It's what it  is That's what it is  now The garrison sleeps in the  citadel With the ghosts and the  ancient stones High on the  parapet A Scottish piper stands  alone And high on the  wind The highland drums begin to  roll And something from the past  just comes And stares into my  soul Cold on the  tollgate With the Caledonian  blues Cold on the  tollgate God knows what I could do  with you It's what it  is That's what it is  now What it is That's what it is now There's  a chink of light, there's a burning wick There's  a lantern in the tower Wee Willie Winkie with a candlestick Still  writing songs in the wee wee hours On Charlotte Street, I take a walking stick from my  hotel The ghost of Dirty Dick is  still in search of Little Nell It's what it is It's  what it is now And it's what it  is What it is now 


Condensed to save paper.   
 
As usual, Mark Knopfler's average > 90% of all recorded rock.
I like this ... very good RP .. keep up the good work  :-)
Isn't that the singer from Dire Straits? Great song.
Sigh. Mark can sing to me anytime. {#Good-vibes}
 planet_lizard wrote:

There is nothing daring about eating toast, snuggling in your duvet, going for a walk on a beautiful day, listening to the birds or chatting with friends and like this track they are all sodding marvellous.
 
{#Bananajumprope}
 rdo wrote:
There is not one daring element to this music.  It's about as uninteresting as it gets.  Lacks any imagination.  Suffocating.  In a word - stuffy.
 
Since when is "daring" an essential requirement for music? And it sure is interesting to those of us who know and love Edinburgh as it's so evocative of Auld Reekie. 9 from the Albaphile Nottingham jury.
 
symthy wrote:
Damn this is a wonderful song for so many reasons, not least the guitar lick in the chorus!
 
Makes me wanna play the air guitar.
Damn this is a wonderful song for so many reasons, not least the guitar lick in the chorus!
 planet_lizard wrote:

There is nothing daring about eating toast, snuggling in your duvet, going for a walk on a beautiful day, listening to the birds or chatting with friends and like this track they are all sodding marvellous.
 
{#Clap}
Waking me up nicely after Natilie Merchant.
 rdo wrote:
There is not one daring element to this music.  It's about as uninteresting as it gets.  Lacks any imagination.  Suffocating.  In a word - stuffy.
 
There is nothing daring about eating toast, snuggling in your duvet, going for a walk on a beautiful day, listening to the birds or chatting with friends and like this track they are all sodding marvellous.
What can I say? When you can play guitar and songs like that. The real deal! And did I mention his voice? Sounds like Mark Knopfler! :-)

 capandjudy wrote:
Lordy! This gets played a lot.
 

wow! Maybe we should scale back our ratings a bit

or not. 
One of the best his songs.....
 oldsaxon wrote:

Your opinion. I think differently. 
 
I'm with you, Saxon!

And if we take a look at the ratings distribution chart, we see that there are very, very many other listeners with us...
The imp of the perverse...look it up.
Lordy! This gets played a lot.
 rdo wrote:
There is not one daring element to this music.  It's about as uninteresting as it gets.  Lacks any imagination.  Suffocating.  In a word - stuffy.
 
Your opinion. I think differently. 
A lot of good things came out of Newcastle...........(yes I know he was born in Glasgow).......
There is not one daring element to this music.  It's about as uninteresting as it gets.  Lacks any imagination.  Suffocating.  In a word - stuffy.
MK always delivers the best


If this is what IT is then I must like IT
This song is ALWAYS an instant energy boost for me...........what it is
 

What It Is by ~Mdl8
Mario De Lucia  ©2011-2012 ~Mdl8

Mark Knopfler in Rome



8 ——> 9  {#Dancingbanana_2}
9
 hoppin_bob wrote:
...with Rick McInnis Ray.  — if you follow this, you might be Canadian!
 
He's so sexy. And he'll bring you the world.
Need better friends -
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/03/29/federalbudget-flaherty-cbc-cuts.html

westslope wrote:

Yes! One of the best show on CBC Radio!  Which I still love.

 

Incidentally, I have warned friends in the Conservative Party to not touch CBC radio.  They can do what they want with CBC television.  I grew weary of CBC TV a long time ago.

 


 MannAudioltd wrote:
Actually it has to be said I loveed the first two DS lps hated the rest but now I'm older beginning tom like everything by him
 
Same here.
...with Rick McInnis Ray.  — if you follow this, you might be Canadian!
Just love it, this guitar is everything!
 kingart wrote:
Stratocaster has clearly never heard Making Movies, Love Over Gold (Telegraph Road is in a class by itself...), and Brothers in Arms, his non-DS collaborations like All the Road Running and Golden Heart, the superb soundtracks for Local Hero, Princess Bride, and Cal, and a massive other discography. Shouldn't make generalizations because they almost always bite one's ass. 
 
I think you meant to respond to RobRyan.....
 kingart wrote:
Stratocaster has clearly never heard Making Movies, Love Over Gold (Telegraph Road is in a class by itself...), and Brothers in Arms, his non-DS collaborations like All the Road Running and Golden Heart, the superb soundtracks for Local Hero, Princess Bride, and Cal, and a massive other discography. Shouldn't make generalizations because they almost always bite one's ass. 
 

Nicely said
Stratocaster has clearly never heard Making Movies, Love Over Gold (Telegraph Road is in a class by itself...), and Brothers in Arms, his non-DS collaborations like All the Road Running and Golden Heart, the superb soundtracks for Local Hero, Princess Bride, and Cal, and a massive other discography. Shouldn't make generalizations because they almost always bite one's ass. 
Damn Good,,,,seriously putting me in a better mood to get out of work and have a nice night in my town.
FANSTASTIC ALBUM! ANOTHER ONE!
Knopfler is one of the bona fide guitar players with their own sound.  Unmistakable signature of tone, style and POV.  Can't hear enough of his licks.
This song just never gets old to me.  It is played constantly on RP and comes around on the IPOD every now and then.  It always gives me a fine jolt of energy.
Every time this song cranks up, I think it's "Because the Night" .... and then—oh, it's not. 
 Turn the speakers back down. 
Knophler & Carlos, tiresome.
Here's a bit of linguistic trivia for youse. The nickname for Edinburgh, "Auld Reekie", comes from the same Norse root as Reykjavik:

"For example, the capital city, Reykjavik. You’ll know the word in Scots and English – reek. Edinburgh had the nickname Auld Reekie. Reykja-vík means “reeky bay” or “smoky bay”. There are several places in Iceland with reykja- in the name. Those are places where smoke rises from the ground." (Letter to Gaelic Learners #635)

RobRyan wrote:
Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits did a good song once. They have recycled that song many dozens of times since. If you've heard Sultans of Swing, you've heard their (his) repertoire.


 
Sjaaks wrote:


I couldn't agree less... Clearly you haven't listened through Mark's discography, there's so much variety...
 
Agree that Mr Knopfler's music is as far from one-hit wonder status as one can get.  Perhaps his unique voice and guitar sound make it seem that way...but the songs and production are all quite different from each other. I would guess that Mr Ryan is basing his observation solely on MK's radio output, not from listening to his discography.

I'll admit Dire Straits/Mark Knoppfler songs often sound alike, but some of that just falls to his having a distinct but narrow range voice and a massive skill on guitar that just pumps so many licks in every song they have to sound a little alike. But, he has touched on many subjects in his lyrics and has many different approaches to songwriting. I think several of his songs are some of my favorites and love that he still puts out great music. I imagine there are only a handful of musicians that would not trade their skills for his. Keep playing it, I say.
I don't know it is about Knopfler's guitar... never gets me emotionally.  Too staid or something.  Oh well.. bring on Jerry!
definitely overplayed
 RobRyan wrote:
Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits did a good song once. They have recycled that song many dozens of times since. If you've heard Sultans of Swing, you've heard their (his) repertoire.
 
So you haven't heard "So Far From the Clyde"  You have a dire treat in store.
 d-don wrote:


Couldn't disagree more. Keep it coming, Bill.
 
Agreed.  Really can't have too much Knopfler.
 brucej76 wrote:
great song! always reminds me of the CBC Radio show Dispatches- they use it for their intro. 
 

Yes! One of the best show on CBC Radio!  Which I still love.

 

Incidentally, I have warned friends in the Conservative Party to not touch CBC radio.  They can do what they want with CBC television.  I grew weary of CBC TV a long time ago.


I always feel better when I hear the opening to this song. Pure rock and roll genius. {#Music}
 allabout wrote:
Bill! this love affair with Mark has to stop, too much Dire!!!!
 
Never.

Actually it has to be said I loveed the first two DS lps hated the rest but now I'm older beginning tom like everything by him
great song! always reminds me of the CBC Radio show Dispatches- they use it for their intro. 
quelle surprise. its mark knopfler again.
 allabout wrote:
Bill! this love affair with Mark has to stop, too much Dire!!!!
 
Couldn't agree less.

 leechi wrote:

very true. please have mercy with us.

 

Couldn't disagree more. Keep it coming, Bill.
 allabout wrote:
Bill! this love affair with Mark has to stop, too much Dire!!!!
 
very true. please have mercy with us.

 allabout wrote:
Bill! this love affair with Mark has to stop, too much Dire!!!!
 
Or not.

 allabout wrote:
Bill! this love affair with Mark has to stop, too much Dire!!!!
 

No, just right !
Bill! this love affair with Mark has to stop, too much Dire!!!!
 allabout wrote:
On the money............one song wonders.......Allabout. RobRyan wrote:
Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits did a good song once. They have recycled that song many dozens of times since. If you've heard Sultans of Swing, you've heard their (his) repertoire.
 
 

yeah, but...

it was a REAL GOOD song  {#Lol}
 smackiepipe wrote:

Hero's been in my top ten movies for over 25 years. Great lazy day movie.

 
Same here. Great, funny film. I think of it as the film that gave birth to a number of films featuring small Irish/Scottish/ or English villages with unusual, quirky characters, like "Waking Ned Devine".  And I've had Knopfler's soundtrack on vinyl, cassette, and now CD.