The Man’s Too Strong

“Your sister gave me diamonds, and I gave ’em to your wife.”

Now there’s a line Bob Dylan would’ve been proud to write, had he written it. Mark Knopfler wrote this line, and many others, but he doesn’t get near the accolades for his songwriting, though he gets plenty for his guitar work. Brothers In Arms was a wildly popular album, a huge commercial breakthrough for Dire Straits, number one in practically every country (except Italy.) Which, given the general pop climate in 1985, was rather surprising. Dire Straits had neither the flouffy hair nor the exuberant synthesizers then at the height of fashion. I suppose they somewhat fit in with the counter-trend of hyper-masculine guitar rock best exemplified by Bruce Springsteen and his many legions of imitators. (Not that Bruce Springsteen is stupid, but he was and remains a populist, and as for his minions, the less said the better.) Dire Straits were most definitely not fist-pumpers or populists. It’s an interesting cultural fluke that such an intellectual group became such a behemoth. Because even a cursory listen reveals that this is not Top 40 grade content. This music is lyrically deep, thoughtful, observant, darkly witty and not exactly optimistic about the human condition. But they also have guitar solos!


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