The cover of Privateering has a photograph of an old green van with its front wheels up on blocks, and given Knopfler’s knowing and wry take on life, it might be a jokey metaphor for his career, at least commercially.
It’s fair to say that Knopfler’s appeal has become more selective, and his legacy is difficult to assess. For Dire Straits, he wrote some magnificent songs – Tunnel Of Love, Romeo And Juliet, Private Investigations and more – and yet they seem to have had no real critical traction, subsumed instead by a ubiquity that anchors the band to a very particular time.
Knopfler’s carefully constructed solo records have focused on his artistry as a guitarist and a songwriter, and while he no longer shoots for the technicolour grandeur of Telegraph Road et al, he constructs some lovely miniatures, from Redbud Tree’s lyrical soloing to the haunted blues of Dream Of The Drowned Submariner.
Knopfler indulges himself on occasion, but still remains a musician of the highest class.