The Subtle Power of Mark Knopfler

I’m really stoked because a last minute opportunity to seeMark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley came my way. J and I are going, and if it’s anything like the last Knopfler tour, this ought to be an evening of great guitar work and equally great songs.

I’m not really that taken by the new Knopfler/Harris CD, but I’m sure it’ll get many more spins after the concert tomorrow night — so I’m reserving my comments for a later date.

What I do want to say is that ever since I heard “Sultans of Swing” on the radio back in 1978/79, I’ve been a big fan of Dire Straits. Mark Knopfler’s solo work hasn’t grabbed me in the same way the songs he wrote when he was in Dire Straits did, but I do like some of what he’s done.

I’ve been listening to Dire Straits’ “Making Movies” for the past few weeks, and am just amazed by the sheer brilliance of the CD. I even got sucker-punched into buying the “digital remaster” of the CD because I really wanted to hear the separation of the instruments more (mostly, I wanted a clearer recording so I could transcribe Pick Wither’s drum parts on “Tunnel of Love,” and then go to my practice space and practice the crap out of that song on my drum kit).

Back when I used to listen to LPs, I just thought side one of “Making Movies” (“Tunnel of Love,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and “Skateaway”) was a trifecta that couldn’t be matched — except for side one of Rush’s “Moving Pictures.” Side two had some really good songs as well, but they didn’t quite have that punch that side one had.

Then in 1982, Dire Straits released “Love Over Gold,” which, to me, is their best album. I know most folks will probably say “Brothers In Arms” was classic with songs like “Money For Nothing,” “Walk of Life,” and “So Far Away,” but for my money (Ha!) “Love Over Gold” endures because of the musical and lyrical layers Knopfler was able to weave into that record. Like a good French wine, “Love Over Gold” is a subtle, yet powerful album that gets better over time. (How’s that for a love letter?) 🙂

Speaking of love letters to Dire Straits…

J’s blog is featuring her love of the song “Romeo and Juliet,” so have a read! And as soon as Jefito gets set up in his new east coast digs, I’ll be guest blogging an “Idiot’s Guide” on Dire Straits (with music downloads, of course).

But before I end this post, one final Dire Straits memory…

Back in 1983, I worked at KKIS in Concord, CA. It was an AM station, but it had an FM sister station called KINQ (92.1 FM). I was hired by Jeff Perry (and in one of those odd twists of fate, I currently anchor the traffic reports on the morning show Jeff hosts on…wait for it… 92.1 FM! That’s a current picture of Jeff on the left). Anyway, Jeff had a feature called “Midnight Tracks” on KINQ back in the day. It was a show that played an entire album at, yes, midnight. Some LPs were classics, some were new, and some were just great albums that seemed to be overlooked. One day Jeff asked me if I was interested in selecting an album to be featured on “Midnight Tracks.” It doesn’t take a PhD in music to figure out that I instantly said “Yes” and came back with “Love Over Gold” in hand. Jeff took a look at it and said “So, this is a good one?” I said “Yep!” And he smiled and said “Okay, get it dubbed!” (We played almost everything on reel-to-reel tapes back then, so I had to dub the LP onto tape).

There’s something about hearing a song on the radio (especially one of your choosing) that just gives you chills. When it’s an entire album, well the feeling is overwhelming.

Ah memories…

–PK

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