Sultans of Swing

Back in the dark times, yes… I’m talkin’ about the Twitter days… one of the many accounts I followed was @ThatEricAlper. The Canadian music correspondent, radio host, blogger and, yes, tweeter, posed a question one day to the effect that if music had just been declared illegal, what was the last song you would listen to? Without hesitation, I replied, “Sultans of Swing.”

When Dire Straits released their self-titled record in 1978, I remember it being a regular on my “playlist” (I would take records out of their sleeves, put them on, find the groove that looked closest to the track, and drop the stylus. After the song finished, I’d repeat the process with the next record, leaving my albums in a shambles in the middle of the living room floor; I have an image of that looking like the piles of books ready for burning in Fahrenheit 451… not that I would EVER burn my records, except, perhaps, for that unfortunate teenage purchase of the Ted Nugent LP, Cat Scratch Fever. But I digress).

The “last legal song” context led me to hear the song very differently the next time I played it. I savoured every note, every instrument, every noticeable sound landmark in the song as if I’d never hear music again. Seriously. I could feel the cynicism and the hopelessness the band was perceiving with young, drunken, dressed-up men coming in the venue and hollering banalities over the music, not appreciating the craft they were witnessing from these talent music makers, while the world continued to unravel itself outside the pub doors, unbeknownst to all inside.

The song plays as though it belongs in the ending credits to a very important film. If I had to pick ten of my favourite songs of all time, “Sultans of Swing” would be high on the list.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Please enjoy.

(Not the official version; that one is not available in North America.)

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