Top 15 Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler songs

In keeping with the weirdest top lists I can possibly come up with, and in honor of buying my ticket to see Mark Knopfler in concert this summer, here’s my list of favorite songs from both his solo and Dire Straits days.

15 Sons of Scotland (Shot at Glory)
Who else could make Scottish soccer interesting? (Don’t answer that!)

14 Your Latest Trick
That amazing sax sells it. . .

13 Skateaway
I can picture Rollergirl so well. . .

12 Going Home (Local Hero)
Hardly anyone remembers this movie for anything but this song. . .

11 Private Investigations
Film noir music. . . I think that genre–if there are enough examples to call it a genre–was invented here.

10 Portobello Belle
I think I saw this girl at the famous market once. . .

9 Boom Like That
If you hate McDonald’s, this is the song for you.

8 Once Upon a Time–Storybook Love (Princess Bride)
You love the movie, you love the song. . . now you know who does it.

7 Sultans of Swing
“When he gets up under the lights to play his thing. . .”

6 Romeo and Juliet
Make sure you get the fingersnaps in the right place.

5 Brothers in Arms
Ah, that guitar outro. . .

4 Silvertown Blues
This is how all songs should be crafted. . .

3 Telegraph Road
14 minutes of sheer awesome

2 Tunnel of Love
When’s the last time a guitar solo broke your heart?

1 Sailing to Philadelphia
Even without James Taylor this song would be the most amazing tune ever. . .


Wilshire is Telegraph Road

Saturday started on an inauspicious note when, as I’m waiting for the subway at Union Station, a SEA of Trojans surrounds me! Arrrgh, help me, I’m drowning! This cannot be good for anyone’s health. . .
Even though I’m enjoying my first country-fried steak in months, I’m pretty bored at Denny’s without my Kindle. . . or, you know, a date. They have a machine that checked if my $50 bill was real; kinda about time.
Once again I got it wrong, it was doors at 7, not concert. So back to Union Station, over to Olvera for ice cream; Creepy Day of the Dead stuff in full gear all over the plaza, soundtracked with Peruvian pipes, which only made it more creepy.
Stepping out of the subway, there’s the Wiltern Theater across the street, it’s huge marquee proclaiming what was up. Guy in his 80s taking the same shot with his cell phone, which to me was a much bigger surprise than him coming to see Mark Knopfler.
Security only looking at bags, so I walk right into the old-looking place. Don’t remember a thing from the last time I was here, which was only a few years ago, but before that it had been in the late 80s. . . I think I lost my point. Anyhoo, at the Rush concert I bought my mom a tote bag for $10, but here they wanted $20, as well as $35 for a shirt. Luckily I will have my memories. . .

best part of the lobby

best part of the lobby

Way up in the boonies, about 3 rows from the very back, but at least I’m on the aisle seat, even though my right knee was painful by the end. I think the guys sitting next to me are Russian, though it’s been a long time since I’ve heard it talked so fast.
On the stage are two keyboard stations–one of them also played guitar at times–as well as a violinist/flutist, flutist/guitar, bass/upright bass, another guitarist, and of course Mark Knopfler.
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As I’m waiting for him to come out, it finally hits me: I’M FINALLY ABOUT TO SEE MY FAVE GUITARIST OF ALL TIME! The only other time I had a chance to see him, a girlfriend got me fourth row center on my birthday at the Greek, but he had a motorcycle accident and had to cancel his whole tour. I didn’t care that I was about fifty yards further away this time, this was still gonna be a bucket list checkmark night. . .
He started out with a song I like, What It Is, but not one of my faves; I think I like it much better live. I didn’t anticipate he’d be funny to the point of hilarious, at one point saying he was glad to still be vertical. He told someone to “Send an email or something,” though I never heard the original shout from up there.
There were plenty of new songs, since his double album just came out last month, so I didn’t know most of them, but it was easy to tell when he launched into the title track, Privateering. Yep, it’s about a pirate, albeit one sanctioned by British royalty; long story, read up on it. Starts with just him and another guitar, but soon everyone joins in, giving us moments of fast Irish jig; you can tell Mark, along with all the others, loves jamming.
Next came another newbie, Kingdom of Gold, which reminded me a lot of Sands of Nevada from Sailing to Philadelphia. A couple of times after applause he’d say, “You’re very sweet,” and I can’t imagine another artist putting it that way.
Before the next selection he introduced Nigel Hitchcock on sax, which for a moment made me think they might do Your Latest Trick, but no such luck.
Of course the audience was waiting for some beloved older songs, and we got one here, though with the sax start there was no way to recognize ROMEO AND JUILET! until the soft guitar started. I was far too into enjoying this to really think of anything during the sweet sounds, although I did notice the sax came out again while he changes guitars for the outro. . . I’d never seen that. . .
Some gal screams a song request, to which he replies, “Love to oblige, darlin’.” I hope that was adlibbed, though I imagine he gets so many requests he’s probably learned that. There were also plenty of long instrumental parts, sometimes solo, sometimes only drums and upright bass, sometimes all of them, and I can’t remember a time I’ve ever seen so many great musicians on one stage; I particularly loved the soft Celtic pipes. Then came the musician intros, starting with the drummer; as each is introed, they add to the song, and I can almost swear there’s a few seconds from Princess Bride until they go into Postcards from Paraguay, which included some pipes that reminded me of the ones at Olvera earlier.
Going even deeper into the bluegrass, I’m pretty sure the next piece was Marbletown, featuring some of the most awesome violin I’ve ever heard, with really high yet soft bowing and picking.
This is how you do it: you save the best for last, or nearly last: TELEGRAPH ROAD! The 14 minute version, too, just like I’ve been listening to all these years on my player. Granted there are other songs I would have loved to hear, but this made it all worthwhile; I am literally almost in tears.
I’ve never understood the reasoning for encores, unless it’s to let the audience scream for a while, but they came back to add Our Shangri-La and Coming Home, from the movie Local Hero. Standing ovation ensues, though I know there’s not going to be any more songs, and being on the aisle helps as I dash out, figuring if I can catch the next subway across the street I might get home at 11.
No such luck, but I wasn’t the only concertgoer on the train. A couple of guys and I passed the time with the Wish He’d Played game, with me going with Sailing to Philadelphia and Tunnel of Love, them adding Sultans of Swing and Brothers in Arms. A few minutes later some chick, who didn’t look all that wasted, throws up on her friend’s lap. Wonderful. . .
So I had about a 45 minute wait at Union Station, where I ran into some rather surreal stuff, like the fat black guy pushing a wheel chair while singing–loudly–in Italian, and a girl kneeling in an incomprehensible getup with an antique radio to her ear while also singing. More interesting were the two post-mod chippies who escaped from a Robert Palmer video strolling along holding a dirge-like note for what seemed like a ridiculous amount of time, but kinda scary were the acrobats in the main passage, along with some emaciated-looking crawler. Better was the sign on the information booth that read “Please do not bother the nice person on the computer. She is part of an opera performance.”
Ah, I got it now: it’s that opera I read about, where you listen with special headphones that beam the music to you. Okay, but at least the visuals were free, though being a fan of Marco Polo and his trip to China did not help in figuring out the plot, if indeed there was one. Guess they had a good reason for calling it Invisible Cities. I’m gonna go find that book now. . .

A black lab in the train station restroom gave me a wet kiss on knee. . .
So, looking at the calendar, this has to be the first time in my life I’d gone out seven Saturdays in a row! No wonder I’m so exhausted. Let’s see if I can remember them. . .
1 Natalie Gelman at Hotel Café
2 Marina V house concert
3 Gin Blossoms at Saban
4 Riddle the Sphinx at Decompression
5 NCIS: Los Angeles meetup
6 Shannon Curtis FrontYardFest
7 Mark Knopfler at Wiltern
(Nothing this Saturday, but there’s something on Sunday. . .)