The true power of Mark Knopfler’s dead pan emphatic stage presence (and the TRUE power of extended Sax solos) is that nearly 3 minutes passes before the camera pulls in tight to reveal that Eric Clapton is on stage, playing rhythm guitar.
1992. Head bands. Dad jeans. Another big sax solo. Huge daytime crowd, hands waving above their heads. The song relents when the verse, “all I do is miss you”, as the organ takes over. Then it all stops and Chris White steps forward and brings it home.
An abridged version. This is a live studio performance for television, in 1980. Mark Knopfler was already into his 30’s before he gained any broad success. So, there’s like hope for me, too.
How the National Guitar found its way into song.
A very moving orchestral intro. A drummer who is rocking. Mark changes fucking guitars late in the song for a solo. The most emotional I’ve seen him. Imagine spending 30+ years with a song. Tons of artists do it, and it has to be hard to keep it fresh, stay connected. How MK and his band do it, I don’t know. For me, my first contact with this song came through Empire Records (a film that moved me deeply to, like, be the kind of character that would be in the movie), and when Mark feather dusts the ballerinas foot, I was hooked.
I mean, this is a very sad song, and, if you’re like me and you listen to it too much, one of two things can happen; (and this of course depends on who you really are as a person, too) you can become immune to this story, about two kids who came up on different streets, but fell in love just the same. You’ll let the lyrics move away like the remnants of a shore-break wave, it just goes back out the way it came in and you don’t even try to stop it—hold it near you. Or, you can let your eyes well up, let the heaviness of the “It was just the time was wrong” wash over you until you’re sure you’re in love, and really, anyway what you gonna do about it?
And so these are the Top 5 live performances of Romeo & Juliet. Enjoy, Won’t You?
The two of you took a train to get to a train so that she could get to a bus which would later in the evening leave the city. That bus, the vile and filthy Chinatown variety would carry her south, and into the mountains where she lives. You will stay behind because this is where you live.
New York City is no respecter of persons. It does not care that she’s spent 3 days here with you, and in those days you held hands and saw the island from the water, feeling both so large and so small. Oh, and in the nights you were tangled up together in your apartment, alternating big spoons, smiling a lot and, kissing like the couple that you’re not, but you want to be. This city doesn’t care that you got attached. New York City doesn’t care about your attachment because the immediacy is that she needs to get on that A Train to take her to where she needs to go and that train is not waiting.
Her hand is gripped around your arm, she doesn’t say it but you know the meaning; don’t go. The exchange that follows is summed up in that you will travel to see her soon. She wants to come back. She’s left a tooth brush in your apartment. The things you didn’t say are not important-there will be time later to say them. The only thing that matters is the way she felt in your arms, when you knew she was asleep, the smell of her hair which you hope never leaves your pillow and that you wrote this from a train that is both taking you away from her in the physical breadth of distance, versus time, which after enough passing will bring you back to her.
Never write it until you write it.