Saturday, September 12, 2009

Listening to “Get Lucky” for the First Time

This event wouldn’t have its own dedicated blog entry, however short, had it not been such an amazing experience.

At around 9:00pm, we dimmed the lights, shut down all phones and started playing Mark Knopfler’s Get Lucky on Jeroen’s surround sound system.

The first song, Border Reiver, wasn’t new to us as it was published in Mark’s official website a few weeks ago; however that was the first time I listened to it through a great sound system and it sounded even more amazing that way. We came to an agreement that this song would be the perfect gig-opener during the tour. There is so much positive power in this song to make you fly, kind of like a “boom” to send you right into heaven right at the beginning of the show.

The next song, Hard Shoulder, is a very soft song. I can think of very few songs that are such a perfect fit for a walk down a moonlit pathway – by yourself. This song placed right after the dramatic Border Reiver really relaxes you.

The next song is a You Can’t Beat the House. The first time I listen to the band playing blues. This song is fundamentally different than all other songs in the album – somewhat jolly, very different style, cheering you up and putting a smile on your face (listen to the lyrics, of course).

Before Gas & TV comes right after. Begins slowly and quietly, but soon enough becomes dramatic; the instrumental work in this song is phenomenal, led by guitar work that haunts you in very much the same way that Brothers in Arms’ does. I am an absolute and complete sucker for guitar works such as these, which makes this song one of my all-time favourites.

Monteleone follows. A quiet, soft song – already heard it in the Prince’s Trust concert and the album version is superb. Chills you out in no time; Mark’s voice goes as soft as I have ever heard it – whispering and literally forces you to relax. Great strings work. Such a simple & great song.

Cleaning My Gun is an island of rock music in this album. This is as close to rock as this album gets – rhythmic, flowing very well with great guitar work. I’m thinking this entire song consists of four chords – very simple and gets you into an optimistic, cheery mood (interesting lyrics…)

The Car was the One for some reason reminds me of KTGC’s The Fizzy and the Still at times. Nice song, somewhat “restrained” with great piano work and interesting lyrics (the CD’s insert provides Mark’s explanation of this song. Bizarre, I always got the impression that Mark prefers to not discuss the meaning behind his songs).

Remembrance Day follows. What a touching song with brilliant keyboard work and guitar work so haunting and touching that can easily make you choke up in a gloomy day. The choir accompanying the song, consisting primarily of the family members (wives, kids) of band members as well as people closely associated with them, adds an interesting “aspect” to this song. Very well done!

Get Lucky, the title track, is next. When this song was first published in Mark Knopfler’s official website, it immediately made its way into a one-song playlist that played for hours in a loop straight into my brain – it is that beautiful. What’s interesting, though, is that if you listen to this song after listening to all previous songs in the album, you get a totally different “atmosphere” from the one you’d get if you listened to this song by itself. This is “musical priming” at its best.

So Far from the Clyde follows. This song and Before Gas & TV are my favourite tracks in this album. While all other tracks are amazing, these two are my favourite for a simple reason: they are dramatic with extremely prominent, well-timed and well-emphasized minor chords. As for this song – I can only describe it as a “never-ending provider of shivers”. EVERYTHING in this song is perfect – the guitar work (my God), keyboard work, accordion, and of course the whistles, flutes… what more could I have asked for.

Piper to the End concludes this beautifully-crafted album. Mark has written this song in reference to an uncle he never knew (lost in battle). The lyrics are very touching, and together with heart-warming instrumental work you end up getting a simple, yet powerful song. As the song builds up, you realize that the album is almost over, which makes you quite sad because you haven’t listened to such perfect music in quite a while and you don’t want it to end. Viciously enough, this track ends in a fade-out (the only track that fades-out in this album)… I really didn’t want this fade-out to end. It’s like you’re seeing the finest ship in the world sailing away from you. You want to hold it so it doesn’t leave your sight, but yet it sails away and you are nearing tears when you realize that there’s absolutely nothing you can do to make it stay there with you.

In total, this is a fantastic album. I tend to be very attentive to the smallest details and so far, after listening to this album pretty much all day, I have to say – I am stumped. This album has no flaws in it. Nothing. These are the best musicians that I have ever come across, playing perfect music in perfect harmony, creating an album that, in my opinion, is the apex of Mark’s creations so far.

I have to say that this is a little frustrating. Yet again, Mark has claimed that he’s going to create a “better album”, I couldn’t believe it’s even possible and I come up a loser.

Shortly after listening to the album, I logged into a prominent Israeli news site and reported my impression in one of the music forums there. I have claimed, quite vigorously, that this is Mark’s best solo album so far and the two main reasons for it (in my opinion) are the facts that it has been recorded in a brilliant studio and, even more importantly, that it was performed by a group of musicians that appear to have perfect symbiosis between them.

I didn’t want this album to end, really… and while I am looking forward to listening to some tracks from this album being played live in 2010 as I will attend the entire tour, I can’t escape the thought about the emptiness of the day after.




dee said...

one of the reasons for I am following your blog is your beautyful and competent writing: here you have reached your best so far:the subject helps too, of course. Go on this way, please
I do agree that Border Reiver would make the venue explode if performed, but my favourite is So far from from the Clyde: it's dooming ( may I say so?) atmosphere strikes me down.

Unknown said...

i've followed mark and his career since 1978. I'm afraid for me the best album was the first (Golden Heart) and since then it has been ALL THE SAME - very dark, turgid and I have to say BORING. It hurts me to have to say this but it is true and we Knopfler fans all over the world have to admit it now. Its just more of the same I'm afraid. Great albums are not about perfection - they are about how they make you FEEL. Can you honestly tell me that any album since Golden Heart has made you feel any different than another? They are all pretty dreary, uninteresting and sad. Where's the fun, the inspiration ... the song to make you grab your lover's hand and make you feel good about life?

Anonymous said...

Hello Fadil,
Thank you for the interesting note.

Well, music is a matter of taste, really. You listen to music, the music triggers certain chemicals to be released by your brain, causing you to feel some sort of sensation that you can either feel positive, negative or ambivalent towards; that's why so many types of music and musicians exist - targeting different audiences.

I, for instance, can't see the big deal in any Pink Floyd album prior to David Gilmour taking charge. Some of the albums, such as "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and "Ummagumma" - I actually dislike, and recognize the fact that I may forever be condemned for it. They simply don't trigger the kind of feeling I'm looking for.

Therefore, while I fully respect your statement about the album being "boring" - you're entitled to have your own opinion - but calling all fans to "admit it" is, how to say, a bit arrogant in my taste.

Great albums are about how they make you feel - that is correct. However, "perfection" is often looked for as well, by people who have interest in the process of recording and actually making music. The more involved you are with music - creating, writing, recoding etc - the more "things" you look for in order to make up an opinion. That's, for example, why Chef Gordon Ramsay will never eat in %95 of my favorite restaurants.

Yes, I can certainly tell you that each album makes me feel good in a slightly different way and I can easily recognize the differences between Mark's compositions. Had Mark's music been so one-dimensional in my eyes, as you suggested, I certainly wouldn't embark on the KTGC trip last summer.

The song to make me want to grab my lover's hand and feel good - well, I don't know. Save for a few ("Are We In Trouble Now", "If This Is Goodbye" are examples), I don't really consider Mark's music as a driver for holding my (currently nonexistent) lover's hand. Instead, it makes me want to grab any of my five guitars and never let go.

People are different, I guess.

Anonymous said...

When you said you will attend the entire tour, do you mean the NA leg only, or Europe too?

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous,
The entire tour (Europe included).



Unknown said...

Hi Isaac!

We loved your blog last time and wished we could be going to the concerts with you. We live in Portland, and will go to the Portland & Eugene concerts. It would be great if we could meet. Please email us!

Fiona & Steven

Anonymous said...

Hi Fiona & Steven,

Thanks - of course, it'll be great to meet. Would be more than happy to e-mail you but I don't have your e-mail address... send it to me in private (click my profile and the e-mail address should be there).

Anonymous said...

Isaac--I enjoy your blogs and came to love MK's music late in life. Been to 5 of his concerts the past few years. Maybe I'll run into you this year at Temecula or Phoenix. If I didn't have another life, I'd go to every concert, too!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous, thank you for following my blog and commenting - much appreciated.

Will be happy to meet in the tour next year :-) Keep in touch,


Carol Adleta said...

I like the way you handled your response to Fadil. Very cool! I sent you an email directly to your email address with comments about your following the KTGC tour, etc, however, I forgot to mention how ON you were regarding the new Get Lucky CD. Your comments on each and every song were very interesting and after listening to it now several times, dead-on in my opinion. Look forward to you responding to my email.
Carol Adleta