"News" as written by and Mark Knopfler....
He sticks to his guns
He take the road as it comes
It take the shine off his shoes
He says it's a shame
You know it may be a game
Ah, but I won't play to lose

He's burning the grass
He take up a glass
He swallow it neat
He crosses the floor
He open the door
He take a sniff of the street

And she tell him that he's crazy
She's a-saying listen baby
I'm your wife
She tell him that he's crazy
For gambling a-with his life

But he climbs on his horse
You know he feel no remorse
He just kicks it alive
His motor is fine
He take it over the line
Until he's ready to dive

And she tell him that he's crazy
Yes she's saying listen baby
I'm your wife
Yeah she tell him that he's crazy
For gambling with his life

He sticks to his guns
He take the road as it comes
It take the shine off his shoes
He says it's a shame
You know it may be a game
Ah but I won't play to lose

He sticks to his guns
He take the road as it comes
It take the shine off his shoes
He's too fast to stop
He take it over the top
He make a line in the news


Lyrics submitted by Dasch

"News" as written by Mark Knopfler

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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News song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +2
    My InterpretationI agree with the below in terms of it being about a biker engaged in a risky career and a wife who tries to stop him. However, I haven't seen anyone take on the central theme of the song which is about "news" and cliches.

    This song is full of tropes/idioms. In fact, it is largely constructed from them: "sticks to his guns"; "takes the road as it comes"; "takes the shine off [his shoes]"; "gambling with his life"; "kicks it alive"; "it's a shame"; "won't play to lose"... almost all the lines are common phrases or, at least, devoid of individual detail; "he open the door / he take a sniff of the street" tells you very little about the biker as an individual person.

    And yet, somehow the song becomes incredibly poignant and we are able to put the cliches together to form a complex picture of his character and his situation. A lot of this is subtle and through the music or intonation, but it's also through the lyrics.

    I think there are a few key ideas we can get from this:

    1) Behind every simplistic "line in the news" and the cliches or bland descriptions therein there are real, actualized people.
    2) Alternately, it's an embrace of the cliche. We live in a world where every story has been told (to the point that it is a cliche), but that somehow doesn't diminish from the stories' power.
    corydeburdon December 10, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs a lifelong avid motorcyclist, I remember realizing back when the song came out that the line "he just kicks it alive" referred to kick starting a motorcycle. Long after that I learned more about Mark Knopfler I found out that he is also an avid car and motorcycle fan / rider. Also, Dire Straits was originally called the Cafe Racers, referring to the (somebody from the UK help me out here) culture of riding / racing motorcycles around from cafe to cafe in the evenings in London and so on. So to me the song has always been about a cafe racer type guy who may have been riding a little impaired - "He’s burning the grass He take up a glass He swallow it neat" and ended up crashing and possibly getting killed. The line "You know it may be a game But I won’t play to lose" may refer to actual legitimate motorcycle racing, I sometimes have imagined an actual rider in the Isle of Mann TT... many riders have gotten killed at that event and ended up "a line on the news".
    tmanon August 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell, the guy in the lyrics would be a chopper fan, but I doubt whether the lines about gambling on his life and risking everything really refer to racing. Most cc riders (or motor sport champions like Ayrton Senna) don't count on the risks of being killed or badly maimed.
    I feel there's an unstated point here that the guy is a bit outside of the law already, and he may be joining in a big bank robbery scheme or something similar. That would give the references to gamble and risk much more point. Mark had been a journalist for years and he's a literary guy, so he's no doubt familiar with this kind of thing. The final line is really deadpan brilliant.

    There's a similar "iceberg weight" I think, in "Single-handed Sailor" (check with my comments to that song).
    tinderboxon September 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't there's anything here to suggest the guy is an outlaw. He's addicted to risk and speed, among other things, and ends up paying the price.

    But tinderbox is right -a "deadpan brilliant" final line, made all the more effective by calling the song News.
    ShineYouDiamondon August 31, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLike so many of his other songs - Brothers in Arms, Where do you think you're going - it's an exploration of men's attitudes. The biker can't see life as other than a game where he must keep winning, and he mustn't show weakness - he's got to stick to his guns no matter what. His wife is trying to say there's other stuff in life worth living for, her love for example, but he just can't see it.
    jimqukon October 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentamazing song. the lyrics, the music, the solo, knopfler's singing/talking style and voice.. everything in it is perfect
    i like how for the last 3 lines, the music goes a bit higher and more agressive to annouce the news (thats how i see it)
    nachozon January 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretationhej there,
    can't say much about the meaning, but I noticed a few things that made me think of Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West, and since there is also a track on the album named after this movie, maybe it has to do something with it... I have to say it is not very convincing, but I'll give it a try.

    so here it goes.

    'He take up a glass
    He swallow it neat

    He crosses the floor
    He open the door
    He take a sniff of the street'

    that reminds me of the movie, when Harmonica and Frank are in the saloon, discussing Frank's offer about the railway station.
    Frank offers Harmonica one dollar more than Harmonica payed for it (you have the right to make profit too). Harmonica buys a drink and drinks it. Then he walks to the door, and stands with his arms on the door, looking to the street outside.
    (when he comes back, he asks the wailer how much, he says 'one dollar', Harmonica takes Franks dollar and throws it in the glass before walking away - I love that part :) )

    'But he climbs on his horse
    You know he feels no remorse
    He just kicks it alive

    His motor is fine
    He take it over the line
    Until he’s ready to dive'

    made me think of Cheyenne at the end of the movie. He and Harmonica ride away on their horses, his motor is fine referring to Cheyenne's body - actually it's not fine of course; when he is out of sight he falls from his horse (until he's ready to dive) and dies.

    well, I do think this song is about a motorcyclist, but Mark Knopfler might have put this in as a reference to the movie...
    Robert#371on December 10, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs a matter of interest, Mark Kopfler dedicated the song to John Lennon at a concert in Germany in 1980. Also, at that performance they ended the song with the Private Investigations outro, even though Private Investigations wasn't released until 1982.
    nebadonon January 17, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy impression of the song was that it's not so much about a "biker" as a motorcycle stunt performer like Evil Kneivel.

    My mental image when listening to this song, however, is of an Old West style desperado who's done well and his woman or ma is trying to convince him to hang it up and retire. But he's always just got to gamble it all on just one more heist...
    Celestatiuneon February 08, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBrilliant!! The way he ends with news..
    Nefilimpon December 28, 2012   Link

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