Dire Straits

Dire Straits were a British rock band that formed in Deptford, London, 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. Despite the prominence of punk rock during the band’s early years, their stripped-down sound contrasted with punk, demonstrating a more “rootsy” influence that emerged from pub rock. Many of Dire Straits’ compositions were melancholic. [Wikipedia]

That last sentence is an understatement.

I used to listen to this in college, during my “Sit Around And Sigh” period. (Also known as “Where Did Everyone Go?”)

On the same album was “So Far Away”, which I played a lot around that time as well, during fantasies that I had a faithful girlfriend someplace else. Far away, obviously. I was kind of a mope around 1990, until I got some reality knocked into me.

If you are on Earth, and you enter a grocery store, you will hear “Sultans Of Swing”. There is a 75% chance you are hearing it right now. I was disappointed when I first heard actual “swing music”, because it sounded nothing like “Sultans Of Swing”. Then a few years later, I prayed never to hear the song, or the style of music again.

“Money For Nothing” is an entirely different animal. It’s bonded to a historic and widely-known video, featuring early computer animation and blocky refrigerator delivery men. Sting, from The Police, sings backup. The full version uses the word “faggot” in a precise and satirical way (it’s understandably but unfortunately cut for radio). It has a brilliant and memorable guitar hook. It doesn’t actually sound all that dated. It sounds pretty fuckin’ awesome.

No one remembers that MTV’s slogan was “I want my MTV”. They aired bumper montages of various early ’80s rock stars (Billy Idol, Blondie, David Lee Roth) reciting it into the camera. It was actually sort of a rebel yell, for a brief time. Then it became a joke. Then MTV became a joke. Then the joke was on us, once all this marketing crap became normalized as entertainment.

Is it entertainment just because it’s on all day? Or is it a “feed”, like for cattle?

The Princess Bride was such a perfect movie because it was the coming together of numerous rebels of entertainment. Rob Reiner, son of the legendary Carl, directed. The original book was a comedic send-up of fantasy tropes. The giant is played by a real one; wrestler Andre the Giant. Christopher Guest, one of the funniest men ever to draw breath, is the villainous Count Rugen. There are cameos from prime ’70s comedy, like Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, and Mel Smith.

And of course, the great Wallace Shawn, son of the great William Shawn of The New Yorker. He made a little film called My Dinner With Andre. 

You might’ve heard of it. It’s only one of the greatest masterpieces ever made.

If you’re a thinking man, you really can’t ask for a better film to watch with a woman over dinner. Anyone who tells you it’s stupid and nothing more than two guys yakking over wine; break from them immediately. They are most likely beyond redemption, or smoke crack.

As for the aforementioned melancholy, there’s two Dire Straits songs that stick out the most for me; first is “Telegraph Road”.

If you grew up going to the beach every summer like I did, you know which DS song is probably the saddest. This one is so emotionally vivid it’s tough to revisit. I was very harsh on the memory I depicted in panel 2 of the strip, for humor; the reality was much cleaner and nicer. Holy shit folks, you wouldn’t even believe how hot this girl was. She was one of a couple of actual teen models I fooled around with back in school. The relationships never went anywhere, and fast, but… who gives a fuck?!? The memory still persists.

I don’t connect the memories with “Romeo and Juliet”, however. That honor goes to “Tunnel of Love”.

Yeah, dude. Jersey beaches in the late 1980s. Dark yards and keg parties. It’s all there.

Holy shit, dude. You have no idea.

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