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Lady Writer (Dire Straits)

"Lady Writer" is a 1979 rock song and single by Dire Straits, sung by Mark  knopfler. It appears on the band's second album Communiqué. It's one of Dire Straits' biggest hits and a classic from the 70's.

Listen to a studio recording of this song (lyrics change a little bit sometimes): Lady Writer.

Dire Straits were a British rock band, formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler (lead vocals and lead guitar), his younger brother David Knopfler (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), John Illsley (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Pick Withers (drums and percussion). Dire Straits' sound drew from a variety of musical influences, including jazz, folk, and blues, and came closest to beat music within the context of rock and roll.

Lady writer on the TV
Talking 'bout the Virgin Mary
Reminded me of you
Expectation left to come up to, yeah

Lady writer on the TV
Yea, she had another quality
The way you used to look
And I know you never read a book

The way her hair hung down around her face
And I recall my fall from grace
Another time, another place

Lady writer on the TV
She had all the brains and the beauty
The picture does not fit
You'd talk to me when you felt like it

The way her hair fell down around her face
Then I recall my fall from grace
Another time, another place

And your rich old man
You know he'd call her a dead ringer
You got the same command
Plus you mother was a jazz singer




The way her hair fell down around her face
Then I recall my fall from grace
Another time, another place

Lady writer on the TV
She knew all about a history
You couldn't hardly write your name
I think I want you just the same as the...
Lady writer on the TV
Talking 'bout the Virgin Mary
Well, oh yeah, you know I'm talking about you and me
And the lady writer on the TV
+++++

Lady writer on the TV
Talking about the Virgin Mary
Well, oh yeah, you know I'm talking about you and me
And the lady writer on the TV
+++++
Lady writer on the TV
Lady writer
Lady writer on the TV

'BOUT= About.

THE VIRGIN MARY= (in Christianity) The mother of Jesus.

RECALL= (formal) Remember.

MY FALL FROM GRACE= In Christianity, if we fall from grace we sin against God (we do something wrong and offend him) and so we get separated from God's grace (his love and favour) because our actions made us walk away from him. Mark Knopfler is using this expression to talk about the moment when he did something wrong in the past and he offended his girlfriend, so he ruined his relationship and they broke up and got separated. Or maybe she is the one who did something wrong and caused him to feel miserable. In either case, something happened in their relationship and he lost his happiness. That happened, as the song says, in "another time, another place".

SHE HAD ALL THE BRAINS= She was very intelligent (BRAIN= The gray mass inside our head which most people use to think).

THE PICTURE DOESN'T FIT= I think he refers to the image on the TV (that programme where the lady writer is on), and that image doesn't match his memory of his girlfriend, because the woman on TV talks when its her turn to talk (probably an intervew) and his girlfriend used to talk whenever he wanted ("You'd talk to me when you felt like it").

YOU'D TALK TO ME...= We can use WOULD to talk about a past habit (= You used to talk to me...)

WHEN YOU FELT LIKE IT= Whenever you wanted. (IT= Talk to me)
- I feel like having a tea (= I want to have a tea, that's what I'd like to do right now)

YOUR RICH OLD MAN= Your rich father (most probably).

A DEAD RINGER= Someone who is exactly the same as another person (her father would think that the lady writer is exactly the same as her).

YOU GOT= (esp. AmE) You have, you've got.

COMMAND= To have command is to be in possession of autority and it shows.

PLUS= (conversational) Besides, moreover, and also..

When asked what the song was about, Knopfler said that he was watching TV one day, and there was a lady writer on the TV, and that's basically where the idea for the song came from. Because the song says the writer is "talking about the Virgin Mary", some have speculated that the writer in question is Marina Warner, a view shared by Warner herself.

He is reminisciming about the look and aura his former girlfriend gave off, that is so similar to that of the Lady on the T.V. Notice the change between "She knew..." and "You couldn't...", where SHE is the lady writer on the TV and the YOU is his ex-girlfriend, to which he is singing this song. 

He is fully appreciating his former girlfriend, as she had all the intelligence and 'command' of this well-educated writer, yet she never 'read a book' and could 'hardly write her name'. His former girlfriend was a total package, with 'all the brains and all the beauty', and acknoledged she did not have to put in as much effort into the relationship as he did, as she only 'talked to me when she felt like it'. This further explifies the recurring line of 'I recall my fall from grace', as she was the one with the control and composure, like that of the lady writer he's watching on television.

It sounds like it was a heavily one sided relationship, and seeing the lady on TV is bringing back all those memories. He's still not over her. But she obviously is, "only talked to me when she felt like it". The Lady Writer on the TV seems just like her, the same "type".

 
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