The Ragpicker's Dream

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The Ragpicker's Dream
MK The Ragpickers Dream.jpg
Studio album by Mark Knopfler
Released 30 September 2002 (2002-09-30)
Recorded Ocean Way Studios,
Nashville, London,
January–June 2002
Genre Roots rock, folk rock, blues
Length 55:34
Label Mercury
Warner Bros. (USA)
Producer Mark Knopfler, Chuck Ainlay
Mark Knopfler chronology
A Shot at Glory
(2002)A Shot at Glory2002
The Ragpicker's Dream

The Ragpicker's Dream is the third solo studio album by British singer-songwriter and guitarist Mark Knopfler, released on 30 September 2002 by Mercury Records internationally, and by Warner Bros. Records in the United States.[1] The album received generally favorable reviews upon its release.[2]


The album is a collection of songs written from the point of view of poor but dignified itinerant men, struggling to get by in life, often enjoying small triumphs. Knopfler gives a folk imprint to the whole album without relying too heavily on the acoustic guitar. The first song, "Why Aye Man", was used as the theme tune for the third series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet which first aired in 2002. The album contains numerous other references to North East England, including the village of Tow Law on "Hill Farmer's Blues".[1]


The album cover shows a black and white photograph of a man and a woman dancing in a kitchen. The photograph was taken by Elliott Erwitt and is titled "Spain, Valencia, 1952, Robert and Mary Frank".[3] The photo was also used as the book cover for two novels: The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer (2010, Henry Holt & Company), and Ancient Light by John Banville (2012, Viking).[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 62/100 [2]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars [1]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [5]

In his review for AllMusic, Hal Horowitz gave the album three out of five stars, calling the album "a pleasant, classy, often inspired effort whose unassuming charms are best appreciated after repeated listenings."[1] Horowitz continued:

The memorable riffage that fueled Dire Straits' most radio-friendly material has been discarded for a more pastoral approach, making this a perfect album for a rainy Sunday morning. Like his Notting Hillbillies side project, it isn't entirely unplugged, yet there is an emphasis on acoustic accompaniment to its predominantly ballad slant. Instead of leaving space for traditional soloing, Knopfler weaves his snake-like guitar between the words. This infuses a tense, edgy quality in even the most bucolic tracks.[1]

Horowitz acknowledges Knopfler's versatility and breadth of music on the album: the atmospherics of "Hill Farmer's Blues" and "Fare Thee Well Northumberland", the unaccompanied folk/blues of "Marbletown", the "shuffling groove" on the spooky "You Don't Know You're Born", the mid-tempo "Coyote", the authentic honky tonk swing of "Daddy's Gone to Knoxville", and Roger Milleresque "Quality Shoe". Horowitz singles out the title track, which he describes as "an homage to the American roots music he's always admired."[1]

Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by Mark Knopfler.[1]

No. Title Length
1. "Why Aye Man" 6:14
2. "Devil Baby" 4:05
3. "Hill Farmer's Blues" 3:45
4. "A Place Where We Used to Live" 4:34
5. "Quality Shoe" 3:56
6. "Fare Thee Well Northumberland" 6:29
7. "Marbletown" 3:33
8. "You Don't Know You're Born" 5:20
9. "Coyote" 5:56
10. "The Ragpicker's Dream" 4:20
11. "Daddy's Gone to Knoxville" 2:48
12. "Old Pigweed" 4:34
Total length: 55:34
Bonus disc[Note 1]
No. Title Length
1. "Why Aye Man" (live at Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 23 July 2002) 6:48
2. "Quality Shoe" (live at Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 23 July 2002) 4:01
3. "Sailing to Philadelphia" (live at Massey Hall, Toronto, 3 May 2001) 7:18
4. "Brothers in Arms" (live at Massey Hall, Toronto, 3 May 2001) 9:03
5. "Why Aye Man" (enhanced video) 6:48
Total length: 33:58


  • Mark Knopfler – producer
  • Chuck Ainlay – producer, engineer, mixing
  • John Saylor – engineer
  • Jon Bailey – engineer
  • Jake Jackson – engineer
  • Tony Cousins – mastering
  • Stephen Walker – art direction
  • Neil Kellerhouse – art direction, design
  • Elliot Erwitt – photography (front cover)
  • Ken Sharp – photography
  • North Bank Fred – photography (trains)[6]

Charts and certifications[edit]


Chart (2002) Peak
Australia Albums Chart 45
Austria Albums Chart 9
Belgium Albums Chart 4
Canadian Albums Chart 18
Czech Republic Albums Chart 66
Denmark Albums Chart 7
Dutch Albums Chart 2
Finland Albums Chart 7
France Albums Chart 4
Germany Albums Chart 4
Hungary Albums Chart 41
Iceland Albums Chart 5
Italy Albums Chart 5
New Zealand Albums Chart 8
Norway Albums Chart 1
Poland Albums Chart 14
Portugal Albums Chart 8
Slovenia Albums Chart 12
Spain Albums Chart 2
Sweden Albums Chart 5
Swiss Albums Chart 5
UK Albums Chart 7
US Billboard 200 38


Organisation Level Date
BPI – UK Silver 11 Oct 2002
IFPI – Switzerland Gold 2002
SNEP – France Gold 11 Jun 2003


Why Aye Man[edit]

"Why Aye Man"
Why Aye Man CD.jpg
Single by Mark Knopfler
Released 16 September 2002 (2002-09-16)

"Why Aye Man" was the first single from the album, released in September 2002 by Mercury Records in four CD versions: the promotional single containing two version of track 1, one of which was a 3:56 radio edit (Mercury WHYCJ1), the single containing tracks 1 and 2 (Mercury 0639072), the single containing tracks 1–3 (Mercury 063913-2), and the Maxi single version containing tracks 1–4 (Mercury 0639082).[7]

Why Aye Man was the theme music for the third, comeback, season of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet in 2002, and its lyrics are based upon the same premise that the original series was based upon – that of Geordie tradesmen during the Thatcher years, going abroad to find work in Germany.[8]

Track listing
No. Title Length
1. "Why Aye Man" 6:11
2. "Small Potatoes" 3:11
3. "So Far Away" (live at Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 23 July 2002) 4:40
4. "Speedway at Nazareth" (live at Massey Hall, Toronto, 3 May 2001) 7:54
Total length: 21:56


  1. ^ The limited edition disc was available only in the United Kingdom and Canada.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g Horowitz, Hal. "The Ragpicker's Dream". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "The Ragpicker's Dream". Metacritic. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Elliot Erwin 1952". Magnum Photos. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Different Book, Same Cover: Andrew Winer's The Marriage Artist". OpinionLess. Retrieved November 24, 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Ragpicker's Dream". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  6. ^ The Ragpicker's Dream (booklet). Mark Knopfler. Burbank, California: Warner Bros. Records. 2002. p. 7. 948318-2. 
  7. ^ "Why Aye Man". Discogs. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Lyrics Why Aye Man, Single: Mark Knopfler". Retrieved 29 March 2013. 

External links[edit]