Song of the Day #335: ‘Skateaway’ – Dire Straits

straitsFor years I loved this song but had no idea what it was called. I figured the title was ‘Making Movies’ because that phrase appears in the chorus and I knew that was the title of one of Dire Straits’ albums. But when I checked out the tracklist of the album I didn’t see a song with the name. And the actual title of the song — ‘Skateaway’ — shows up only a couple of times toward the end.

But without really knowing what it was, I’ve always been fond of the shuffling, spoken-word verses (very Dylan-esque, and indeed Mark Knopfler’s career has crossed paths with Dylan’s on several occasions) and the uplifting chorus.

The chorus really captures what it’s like to be lost in music and imagining yourself in a movie scene scored to the tune in your head. I tease Alex because she often hears a song when we’re driving and says “This would be great in a movie when a car is driving across a bridge.” But I know what she means. A great song does put you in your own private movie scene, for at least a few minutes at a time.

The woman in this video, Jayzik Azikiwe, was a pretty big star in Gambia (she sang and danced in addition to performing rather nicely on skates). She died of cancer in early 2008. I ran into a few lovely tributes to her when I was looking up the song.

I seen a girl on a one-way corridor
Stealin’ down a wrong-way street
For all the world like an urban toreador
She had wheels on her feet – on her feet
Well the cars do the usual dances
Same old cruise and the curbside crawl
But the rollergirl – she’s takin’ chances
Just love to see her take them on

No fears, alone at night – she’s sailing through the crowd
In her ears the phones are tight and the music’s playin’ loud

Hallelujah – here she comes – Queen Roller Ball
Enchante – what can I say? Carry on
You know she used to have to wait around
She used to be the lonely one
But now that she been skatin’ around town
She’s the only one

No fears, alone at night – she’s sailing through the crowd
In her ears the phones are tight and the music’s playin’ loud

She gets rock n roll, from the rock n roll station
In a rock n roll dream
She’s making movies on location
She don’t know what it means
And the music make her wanna be the story
And the story was whatever was the song – what it was
Rollergirl – don’t worry
DJ play the movies – all night long

She tortures taxi drivers just for fun
She like to read their lips
Says: “Toro, toro, taxi – see ‘ya tomorrow my son – “
She just let a big truck graze her hip
She got her own world in the city – yeah!
Ain’t that true – Lord I know -
She got her own world in the city
The city’s bein’ so… rude to her

No fears, alone at night – she’s sailing through the crowd
In her ears the phones are tight and the music’s playin’ loud

She gets rock n roll, from the rock n roll station
In a rock n roll dream
She’s making movies on location
She don’t know what it means
And the music make her wanna be the story
And the story was whatever was the song – what it was
Rollergirl – don’t worry
DJ play the movies – all night long

Slippin’ and a-slidin’
Yeah, life’s a roller ball
Slippin’ and a-slidin’
Skateaway – that’s all
Skateaway
Shala shalay, hey hey, skateaway
She’s singin’ shala shalay, hey hey
Skateaway

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2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #335: ‘Skateaway’ – Dire Straits

  1. Dana says:

    This may have been the first Straits song I heard/saw as it was in regular rotation on MTV. I was immediately drawn to it. Great music and lyrics.

  2. Amy says:

    Wonder if this film was the inspiration for Heather Graham’s character in Boogie Nights? I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song before. I like it well enough on first listen, though I’m not sure it’s up there with his best work.

    I do like the spoken shuffle he employs in many of his songs. It’s a great sound.

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