Once Upon a Time in the West

Mark Knopfler’s homage to the Sergio Leone classic, obviously. Leone, of course, was the Italian film director who invented the ‘Spaghetti Western’. Mildly derogatory nickname aside, Leone’s films have over the years earned acclaim for their inventive cinematography, dramatic pacing, and excellent use of Clint Eastwood. One of the most acclaimed features of Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns was the music, composed by Ennio Morricone. Morricone’s soundtracks have become as iconic Eastwood’s squint, and that, I think, is what’s being homaged to here. You can hear it in those mournful first notes, and to a lesser extent in the lyrics too. It’s kind of a rough, tough, unjust world, dangerous and violent. Not a world for the weak, the sentimental or the unarmed.

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You know what I like about Dire Straits? Their modesty. They’re a band of elevated talents and very little hype. Not an ego band. How they ever got popular, I don’t know. It’s almost like they’re too good for popularity. I don’t see a whole lot of nostalgia for them now, but in the 80’s they were huge. Thoughtful, intimate and well-played music rarely enjoys hugeness. But the world of pop is fickle and unpredictable, and it’s nice to see good people get rewarded. Communique happens to be one of my favorite records, maybe not up there with more avidly showboating masterpieces, but quietly rewarding, and (faint praise though it sounds like) just plain always good to listen to.