Friday, April 24, 2009

Classic Rock Rant:
Is Dire Straits Too 'Grown Up' to Be Rock and Roll?

Making Movies is a seminal work from 1980 for any aspiring guitar picker or musical storyteller.

The songwriting is classic, the guitar playing is epic, and the arrangements are exquisitely orchestral. There is some finely finessed, muscular and expressive drumming on this record for all you nutters, too.

The album ticks in with a bit nicked from "The Carousel Waltz" by Rodgers & Hammerstein to conjure the carny vibe, then launches into 'Tunnel of Love' with Knopfler's signature fingerpicked Strat. The guitar picking is like fuel injection to the power and steel of Knopfler's astute storytelling. 'Tunnel of Love', 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Expresso Love' are all first class rock guitar playing. This is top shelf stuff.

So why the frack aren't Dire Straits in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Perhaps it's the adult viewpoint that Knopfler brings to his songwriting. There's a distance in the narrative voice that belies some wisdom gained rather than the adolescent immediacy of your typical rock and roll number. From 'Tunnel of Love':

Girl it looks so pretty to me
Like it always did
Oh Like the Spanish City to me
When we where kids

Reminiscing is not very rock and roll, I suppose.

The second side bloat of Making Movies isn't really rock and roll either, and it certainly isn't adolescent at all. This record is practically the definition of an Adult Alternative Contemporary masterpiece. Click this link and tell me that the stories and guitar playing on Making Movies aren't superior to anything on that Billboard list. Harrumph!

Speaking of AAC, it's surprising that Starbucks never picked up on the song "Expresso Love".

Maybe, just maybe, Knopfler's writing is too grown up for rock and roll. However, surely a band with a song called 'Twistin' By The Pool' qualifies as Rock and Roll.

Advancing Guitar Lessons: Washington, D.C.
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Ellen Gerstein said...

This is one of my all-time favorite albums, and yes I am old enough to have it on an album, a cassette, and finally a CD. It's the true definition of an album, something where you put on the first track and listen to it all the way through. Think I will put it on the iPod for the drive today! Thanks for making me think about it.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I think that Expresso Love video is the first time I've ever seen him use a pick.

pluto said...

No mention of songwriting and Starbucks is complete without this Mike Doughty Bit.

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