"What It Is" by Mark Knopfler

I very much like this song, but I have no idea what it’s about.

Any ideas?

That is rather fanciful. It’s like he’s hearkening back to history and fairy tale/childhood rhyme in describing current activities.

I’m intrigued that he used the term “wee wee hours” which Springsteen used in a couple of songs on Nebraska and we found childishly funny.

I love the song too. I think the first verse is pretty straight-forwardly about the street scene outside a pub at closing time. The last verse appears to be about Knopfler himself, up late writing songs. The Dirty Dick reference is about a particular pub. The rest is a mystery to me, I just enjoy the various images in an impressionistic way without understanding it all, kinda like the way I listen to early REM.

“Wee wee hours” is an old old phrase. :smiley: There’s a Chuck Berry song with that title, and I have a feeling it dates to a much older source.

Springsteen also used it in “Brilliant Disguise”.

No idea. But upon hearing this one song, I went out and bought the album.

I thought it was about a town in Scotland, an old ghost story and Knofler comparing how the town once was with the town as it currently is.

All in all thought it’s a great piece of music.

And ‘wee wee hours’ (which Springsteen also used in Brilliant Disguise) has been around for a long time. Well before Chuck Berry et al.

Yes.
Love the album, love What It Is–especially the fiddle. Love Knopfler, actually.

The fiddle is Mark Knopfler on electric guitar.

Really? All of it? Some of it definitely sounds like a fiddle.

Nope. Although I could believe that Mark Knopfler could play like that, there is in fact a violin in the song, played by Aubrey Haynie.

Or probably the man who inspired the pub. Little Nell is probably the Dicken’s character from The Old Curiosity Shop.

I think the song is about life in a Scottish town (Edinburgh?) and how the city and the people haven’t really changed. I get the feeling that the song is inspired by his stay-over in the city and the scenes in the song are the experiences of his evening. Any of those scenes could be from 2000 or from 1700 with minor differences (wagons, lantern, etc.). I think the point is that the city “is what it is” regardless of what happens to the rest of the world.

The imagery in the song is very powerful. You get the cold night and warm pubs so clearly – it seems as effective as the images in Sultans of Swing. To top it off, it is par-for-the-course for that disc. My favorite is Speedway At Nazareth; a song that gives you story and a character without much more than a list of race courses.

Through a Rockman, right? I couldn’t resist; it reminded me of the linear notes for the third Boston album.

Or probably the man who inspired the pub. Little Nell is probably the Dicken’s character from The Old Curiosity Shop.

I think the song is about life in a Scottish town (Edinburgh?) and how the city and the people haven’t really changed. I get the feeling that the song is inspired by his stay-over in the city and the scenes in the song are the experiences of his evening. Any of those scenes could be from 2000 or from 1700 with minor differences (wagons, lantern, etc.). I think the point is that the city “is what it is” regardless of what happens to the rest of the world.

The imagery in the song is very powerful. You get the cold night and warm pubs so clearly – it seems as effective as the images in Sultans of Swing. To top it off, it is par-for-the-course for that disc. My favorite is Speedway At Nazareth; a song that gives you story and a character without much more than a list of race courses.

Through a Rockman, right? I couldn’t resist; it reminded me of the linear notes for the third Boston album.

Listen towards the end of the song. It’s a fiddle, and played with heart.
The most impressive cameo comes from famed bluegrass fiddler Aubrey Haynie whose playing fuses with Knopfler’s fat guitar tone to transform the crackling “What It Is” into the quintessential Dire Straits song.
Sailing to Philadelphia link

Oh what a dumbass I felt like when I listened to the song last night. Beautiful fiddle playing, indeed. Sorry about the incorrect “correction”, Caprese.