A few weeks ago, I received an email from Keith, one of my High Fidelity friends. (For a full explanation read my January 2012 post titled I Lived High Fidelity Before High Fidelity Was High Fidelity!. Shorter explanation: Keith’s a longtime friend who, like me, is a music geek.)
Anyway, the email had no subject line, and the entire body of the email consisted of this:
Toro, Toro taxi. See you tomorrow my son.
I’ll pause a minute as folks try to place it…
Ok, so, it’s a line from a song called Skateaway, from the third album, Making Movies, by now-defunct band Dire Straits.
And even though I hadn’t heard the song in years, in fact hadn’t listened to any Dire Straits, except on accident, if it just happened to come on the radio, I recognized the lyric and the song it came from instantly, within seconds of reading it I opened Spotify to intentionally listen to Dire Straits, and I’ve been listening to them off and on ever since.
This morning, I wrote this, in response to Keith’s original email:
Keith, I hold you personally responsible for sending me off on a Dire Straits binge.
Thank you. I haven’t listened to this stuff in years.
Seriously, their first three albums are frickin’ incredible…
(Yes, there’s some great stuff after that, like Telegraph Road, a very Springsteen-ish song from their 4th album, Love Over Gold, and some of the stuff on Brothers In Arms.)
…and I think it’s stunning to think about them in the context of what was going on in music at that time, the late 70s and early 80s, so dominated by punk, post-punk/new wave, etc., and there wasn’t much else out there that sounded like Dire Straits. Maybe Tom Petty and a few others.
Early Dire Straits was like a great early to mid 70s rock and roll band, full of American roots music influences, who stubbornly decided to just keep making great early to mid 70s rock and roll.
And there I was, thinking I was making a keen observation, perhaps even a unique observation, but as I was researching for this post, I came across this in the Wikipedia article for Dire Straits’ 1978 debut album (emphasis in bold added):
In his review for Rolling Stone magazine, Ken Tucker wrote that the band “plays tight, spare mixtures of rock, folk and country music with a serene spirit and witty irony. It’s almost as if they were aware that their forte has nothing to do with what’s currently happening in the industry, but couldn’t care less.“
Since this is Video Fridays, this post must include a video, and boy what a video I’ve got for you, nearly an hour and half of early Dire Straits, a 1979 concert that includes songs from their first two albums, tight, clean, rootsy music in a year dominated by wholy different, seminal albums by The Clash, Joy Division, Talking Heads, The Police, Elvis Costello, B-52s, etc., proving that Dire Straits, indeed, didn’t give a shit.
Enjoy, and Happy Weekend, everyone!