Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My #1: Love song

Dire Straits' Romeo and Juliet.

Listen to why this is my favorite. (Note: this is not my favorite music video; in fact, the video is horrid. Please do not judge the song by the video)

Why do I love this song so much? While I could go on and on about the musicianship (in case you weren't sure, Dire Straits is a musically proficient band), what seals the deal for me is the song's narrative. Everyone knows Romeo and Juliet takes place "way back then" when people wore funny hats and dresses and talked in King James ebonics ("Who me?" "Yes, thou"). The story is cute and deals with love, but it is hard to connect with because of the cultural/historical distance (unless you were in Honors English in high school). So, from the outset it seems that any song about Romeo and Juliet is doomed to be lifeless and irrelevant.

Not so, with Mark Knopfler's (songwriter, singer, lead guitarist) lyrical precision and storytelling finesse. While adhering to the natural flow of the story, Knopfler (that name is a pain to type) strips the story of its olde tyme cultural trappings in order to frame it as a simple contemporary love story. The bulk of the song is dialogue between R&J, which helps to loosen the story from the world in which it takes place. Also, no explicit mention is made of the characters' untimely deaths (more on this below), which does the song a double service. One, it anchors the song in the real "heat" of the relationship. R&J are madly in love, and nothing is going to mess with that. Two, it makes the song all the more gripping because you know how it ends. All the lyrics about "forever" and "love you 'til I die" have more punch. Side note: there is one recurring line that does allude to their deaths, but it is so indirect that I don't classify it as a "death reference." Anyway, back to the train of thought.

All of that to say: I love this song. My favorite line in the song? I thought you'd never ask. Towards the end of the second verse, Romeo begins to plead with Juliet to see that he's the real deal, that he really loves her. And he closes it with this bomb:

You promised me everything, you promised me thick and thin, yeah. Now you just say "Oh, Romeo? Yeah, you know I used to have a scene with him."

Wonderful. Enough of my blabbing (and blogging), how about you?