Dire Straits’ records have al­ways been no­tably good-sounding, and Brothers in Arms be­came the oc­ca­sion for the pur­chase of a brand-new CD play­er back in the day for many mu­sic geeks  —  I was one of them. The ti­tle song sounds good too, but to­day we’re ac­knowl­edg­ing its beau­ty and sad­ness and mes­sage.

Brothers in Arms cover

The beau­ty, su­per­fi­cial­ly, is in the exquisite gui­tar ob­bli­gatos that come in af­ter each sad verse. But there’s more; while no­body would call Mark Knopfler one of the great singer­s, he re­al­ly gives it all he’s got on Brothers, sug­gest­ing notes that are way out of his reach, and just the right amounts of room in be­tween, here and there. Al­so, he had a beat-up old man’s voice right from the start, and that’s what this song need­s.

Al­so, the sound. If you’re one of those troglodytes who still has a “stereo” that you play “recordings” on, and al­so you hap­pen to have this record­ing, go put on this song and turn it up. Turn it up re­al­ly loud; loud­er by a wide mar­gin than the loud­est you ev­er go. Chances are, it’ll sound great. There’s some­thing about this song (and al­so The Man’s Too Strong) that makes it keep sound­ing good at huge, crush­ing, un­rea­son­able lev­el­s.

And then there’s the mes­sage; sad­ness, men’s sad­ness specif­i­cal­ly, the sad stu­pid­i­ty of men go­ing to war es­pe­cial­ly, and los­ing their home­s, and the ab­so­lute com­pan­ion­ship of be­ing Brothers in Arms is not close to mak­ing up for it: It’s writ­ten in the stars / and ev­ery line on your palm / We were fools to make war / on our broth­ers in arm­s.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Spo­ti­fy, iTunes, Ama­zon. There are loads of per­for­mances out there on video and it sure is an en­joy­able way to spend an hour, watch­ing a half dozen or so. I picked four: ear­ly & min­i­mal (ge­or­geous out­ro); lat­er and more mu­si­cal­ly am­bi­tious, lat­er again in 1997 with a full or­ches­tra, and fi­nal­ly 2010, seat­ed and with a lit­tle ex­tra feel­ing.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Kevin Spencer (Mar 05 2018, at 11:57)

The best song on the album. Absolutely haunting. Say what you will about the show, it was used really well in Miami Vice.


From: Ted (Mar 05 2018, at 13:31)

For me, the best performance of this was at the end of the Nelson Mandel Concert in Wembley Stadium in 1988.



From: Ted (Mar 07 2018, at 15:41)

Further to my comment above, go to 5:45 to hear the sublimest of live guitar solos.


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March 05, 2018
· Song of the Day (66 more)
· Arts (11 fragments)
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