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I’ve been listening to Mark Knopfler’s ‘Privateering‘ of late. It was released six months ago but I wouldn’t have tripped on it had I not seen him in November when he opened for Dylan in Brooklyn.  A friend bought the double CD for me after we attended the show and made fun of the ‘Knopfler Knuts’ sitting in front of us – a quartet of 30ish chubby dudes and nerdy girls going crazy for their hero on the stage below. This is often how I come across worthwhile stuff, by first mocking those more perceptive than I enjoying it. I’ve always liked his guitar playing though I was never a huge Dire Straits fan. I did like the quieter stuff like ‘(walking in the) Wild West End’ and the ‘Notting Hillbillies’ album he put out a long while back.

Giving a closer listen to Privateering I concluded he’s more than a decent lyricist. It also occurred to me that giving anything a ‘closer listen’ these days involves quite a complex process. The entire album has to be good enough that I’m not inclined to switch over to another disc or shut it off mid-listen. Knopfler has been influenced by JJ Cale’s guitar playing. More is less and simple note shifts and finger-picking within the same minor chord pull the listener unconsciously in. The same holds true for his singing and lyrics – they play almost in the background the first ten times through. I often mis-hear some of the songs I end up liking most. In the title track I was sure I heard him sing:  “The people on your man o’ war are treated worse than scum / I’m no fuckin’ captain though by god I’ve sailed with some.” Except it’s ‘flogging‘ captain which works equally well. These are small details but they add up to some illusive whole for me. There’s also a cool song about New York and the Statue of Liberty – Radio City Serenade – that begins with the line “you got to have no credit cards to know how good it feels.” It reminded me of Neil Young’s ‘Thrasher‘ where he sings “burned my credit card for fuel.” I give it three of four stars and a rare ‘check it out’ rating . At the very least you can keep it on in the background without strong objection. 

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  1. cookie rojas wrote:

    am listening to this now, as it was a requested birthday present

    Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink
  2. Heather wrote:


    Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 1:15 am | Permalink
  3. admin wrote:

    Good catch .. want to be my editor?

    Friday, November 1, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

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