In 1979, while in New York City and around the time he was adding guitar overdubs to Steely Dan’s Gaucho, Mark Knopfler took note of the city’s brazen street skaters, who had spilled out of the roller discos and taken to weaving among traffic. The next year Knopfler added the song “Skateaway” to Dire Straits third LP, Making Movies, romancing the free spirit of “queen rollerball” and the ecstatic, transporting power of rock and roll. A simple notion, an observation of joy, made into song, and then fully realized on record. The imagery of the rollergirl, “making movies on location” as she listens to the radio through her headphones and places herself in the center of the music, was strong enough that Dire Straits named the LP after the lyric. Knopfler’s Dylan-ish, everyman talking blues delivery and beautifully rendered, melodic guitar lines — an alchemical force really, that feels reminiscent of a wicked brew of Peter Frampton, Richard Thompson, and Jerry Donahue (and, Knopfler would undoubtedly add, Chet Atkins) — lead the song with a slippery momentum, which makes me, like the rollergirl, want to step into it, be a part of it. E Street keyboardist Roy Bittan adds cinematic grandeur in the chorus, while Jimmy Iovine’s production adds the kind of rock-and-roll epic vibe he brought to Born to Run: Knopfler in 1980 was proving himself to be Springsteen’s equal in character study, and the texture added by Iovine and Bittan, to the core group of Knopfler, bassist John Illsley and drummer Pick Withers, complements Knopfler’s songwriting without cluttering it or making it seem derivative. “Skateaway” rolls in motion, like film coming off a reel, and, even for a band who had a decade of creating many, many fine images in song, is Dire Straits’ perfect movie moment.
And the music make her wanna be the story
And the story was whatever was the song, what it was