Dire Straits, Pick Withers And The Winter Break Of My Discontent

Here, it is often said that if you don’t like the weather, wait twenty-four hours. Actually, I’ve been trying to inject new blood into that maxim by saying, if you don’t like the weather, move ten feet to the right.

It hasn’t caught on, yet.

The reason I’m even considering the weather is that after a couple days of warmth, tonight it’s cold again and I’m trying to remember the last place I lived that didn’t have a draft.

Psychologically, I wonder if I now associate a draft with the concept of “home.”

But having grown up in the lower Midwest, I was accustomed to cold from October through the end of March – none of this low 70s in January nonsense. There were no days off from the raw temperatures.

The shame that Paloma and I won’t have kids is that I could deliver that parental speech triangulating long distances, heavy snow, and walking to school backed by true experience. It would be an Oscar-worthy performance.

As I student at a large university, on an average day, between hiking to classes and work, I was probably trekking at least five miles (thank God for the Walkman).

One winter, I was stuck working through Christmas Eve. The campus was empty and I was crashing at a house owned by my girlfriend’s uncle.

The girlfriend’s brother lived there as did two of her cousins and a couple of other friends. No one remained, though, except for the roommate who managed a Pizza Hut (think Wooderson, Matthew McConaughey’s character in Dazed & Confused, except, you know, managing a Pizza Hut).

I watched a lot of late-night cable, slept on the couch under a mountain of blankets, and worked myself into a state of catatonia due to the relentless boredom.

I was also going through some kind of Dire Straits phase which lasted for a good six months. On one of those nights during that holiday break, I stayed up ‘til dawn taping every song by Dire Straits, A to Z, from their debut up through Brothers In Arms. I think I even threw guitarist Mark Knopfler’s soundtrack work into the mix.

(has anyone gotten a large government grant, yet, to study OCD in music fans?)

Poor Dire Straits. Has any band that was the biggest in the world – as Knopfler and company arguably were with the album Brothers In Arms – been so lightly regarded?

Of course, since that winter and following spring, I’ve rarely listened to Dire Straits even though I own everything save for their final studio album. Their songs pop up randomly on the iPod, though, and it’s a reminder that they did have some fantastic stuff.

And they also had a drummer named Pick Withers.

It’s a name that I just like to say from time to time

Dire Straits – Water Of Love
I always thought that Water Of Love was the underrated gem from Dire Straits’ debut.

Dire Straits – Skateaway
Other than Sultans Of Swing, this was the second song I think I ever knew by Dire Straits. I’m not sure where – as we didn’t have MTV in our town at the time – but I saw the video. Probably on Night Flights which we got a year or two before MTV.

Anyhow, it’s always been one of my favorites by them.

Dire Straits – Tunnel Of Love
Is there a consensus on the best Dire Straits’ album? I’d have to go with Making Movies and Tunnel Of Love is that record’s stellar opener. Roy Bittan of the E-Street Band plays piano on it.

It has a way cool cover, too.

Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms
Musically and lyrically, Brothers In Arms is astonishingly evocative.

Mark Knopfler – The Long Road
The Long Road was from one of Knopfler’s soundtrack efforts for a movie called Cal. I seem to recall watching the film in college with a friend and it was so slow and depressing that we only made it halfway through (it’s a pretty grim flick about the IRA).

The song is pretty, though, and strangely hopeful sounding.

If you want an engaging, overlooked film with a Knopfler soundtrack, find a copy of Local Hero. Every time I think of it, I suggest to Paloma the idea of running a bed and breakfast in a small, seaside Scottish village.

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2 Responses to Dire Straits, Pick Withers And The Winter Break Of My Discontent

  1. jb says:

    “Skateaway” is a particular favorite of mine, for the odd language of it and the way Knopfler delivers it.

    “Industrial Disease” is pretty cool, too.

  2. […] But I dig the stuff I do know by Mr. Newman and I was paying attention when I heard the wry It’s Money That Matters as the song features guitarist Mark Knopfler and, at the time, I was going through my celebrated Mark Knopfler period. […]

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