Well-Tuned: Sometimes, Dire Straits is a Good Thing…
While doom scrolling through Twitter the other day and came across someone discovering the Dire Straits album from 1982 Love over Gold for the first time. Of course, I jumped in to read the replies and even added one of my own. I like to see a new generation of listeners reaching back to listen to some of rock’s greatest bands. That is why I think Gene Simmons is full of shit when he says “Rock is dead.” By looking to the past, these new listeners are keeping rock alive. That gives me hope for the future that Rock will live on in some shape or form and that one day my grandkids will get the chance to listen to the greats too.
Back in the mid-eighties Dire Straits was a classic rock radio staple. They had released four fine studio recordings plus one live album before 1985’s Brothers in Arms was unleashed upon the world. It ended up being the band’s most commercially successful album, selling over 30 million copies. Its stellar tracks like So Far Away and Walk of Life helped that along. Add to that the perfect timing of the album being released during the meteoric rise of the five year old MTV.
Brothers in Arms contained one song in particular that one could say was played ad nauseam back then. It was the classic Money for Nothing which featured a kind of famous bass player from this three-man band called The Police, Gordon Sumner, that guy who calls himself Sting…maybe you have heard of him. The song was a jab at the rock star lifestyle through the perspective of a working man. In the video, the working man was represented by an animated, dullard type appliance store delivery guy who complained about his job while watching Dire Straits perform the song on the television, a video inside a video, how novel. It featured Sting singing the chorus “I want my MTV” which was the channel’s main marketing slogan back then shown at every commercial break being shouted by the video stars of the day. That song and video put Dire Straits on a whole new level of success that would carry them into the early 90s.
If you were around in the 80s and you listened to classic rock radio you got your fair share of Dire Straits. Greats like Sultans of Swing off their debut album Dire Straits or Lady Writer from their second, and probably one of my personal favorite albums from them, Communique.
Dire Straits is one of those bands that put out well-written and well-played rock music for over a decade. It was not until I made friends with a new neighbor back in 1987, after I had moved away from home for the first and last time at the age of eighteen, when I would come upon the group again.
My friend Henry turned me on to Dire Straits, Little Feat, The Dead; bands that I knew about but not in the capacity that Henry did. He loaned me Dire Straits first four studio albums, 78’s Dire Straits, 79’s Communique, 80’s Making Movies and 82’s Love over Gold.
It was like I discovered the band all over again. Once I listened to them I went out and bought the CD versions plus picked up Brothers in Arms and gave Henry his albums back. He was like I am now. Always looking to introduce someone to music from back in the day that they may have missed or been too young to experience. Believe it or not, I got him hooked on Led Zeppelin as he had never really deep dived them growing up to the degree that I had done. We probably pissed off quite a few neighbors in that apartment complex back then just sitting out on the deck jamming.
We had lots of parties back then and what made those crazy nights even better was Henry’s taste in music and the skill to play just the right mix as the evening went on. He expanded my mind in many ways back then. To this day I think of him when I hear a specific song or play pretty much anything from my Dire Straits collection. I lost track of him after I moved back north in the early 90s and often wonder what he is up to these days.
That happens sometimes, especially when you are young. One day you are with people who are part of your daily life, having fun, not a care in the world. You just do not realize at the time that when those plenteous moments are taking place that before you know it, your will life change and those times will become nothing but saccharine memories that present themselves when you hear a certain song one day as you are driving home from work or sitting on the deck looking at the ocean.
There’s a quote by the character Andy Bernard in the television show The Office where he says “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you left them.” I think back to that five year span of my life and I’ll tell you what, it was a good time to be alive, I knew life was going to change for me eventually but at the time I was L-I-V-I-N…
Thirty years have passed since I was a young buck living in North Carolina but those days are never far from memory. I find now as a middle-aged man that I have developed different reasons to dust off some of my old Dire Straits albums. To me, Dire Straits is the quintessential band for me when I just want to put on some music and chill out. Telegraph Road, Skateaway, Industrial Disease, Once Upon a Time in the West, Water of Love, Romeo and Juliet…
Sure, I could go on with a list of songs for you to listen to dear reader but I won’t. What you need to do is listen to the first four studio albums like I did all those years ago and you will understand. Depending on your age or where you are in life will dictate how their music will beguile you.
The next time you have that melancholy feeling creeping up on you, put on some Dire Straits and let them get your mind right.
You can thank me later…
Till next time.
E Pluribus Unum