Mark Knopfler will always hold a special place in my heart. That place is right next to where John Hiatt lives, and both plots are pretty small, but only because Neil Young's got all the acreage.

When I first heard Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms, I was in my dad's Volkswagen, probably on the way to some baseball card show in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. We did that a lot back then - at least once a month we'd find a baseball card show advertised in the Morning Call's sports pages, my dad would drive us, and then my brother and I would blow all our lawn-mowing cash on completing the 1993 Upper Deck full set, or collecting all of Ricky Bottalico's rookie cards. These were simpler times.

Anyway, when I first heard Knopfler's voice, I asked my dad if we were listening to Bob Dylan. There was something about Sultans of Swing that struck me as Dylan-esque, in my tweenage ignorance. Little did I know I had just discovered a guitar and voice that I would enjoy much more than Dylan in the next decade. On the porch, in the car, during emotional adolescent soul-searching in my bedroom; the rolling, liquid reverberations of Knopfler's guitar were so often the perfect accompaniment.

I didn't find this oft-overlooked soundtrack until years later. It's bright yellow binding jumped out of my dad's collection, and while the album is mostly instrumental, the themes and hooks Knopfler injects make it unmistakingly his. Each track adds theme on top of theme, until the last track layers them all together, in a gorgeous slow build:

[ mp3 ]: Mark Knopfler - Going Home (Theme of Local Hero)

Only one track has vocals, and that's The Way It Always Starts. Guest vocals by the one and only Gerry Rafferty! (Best known for his saxophone-wailing seventies hit Baker Street)

[ mp3 ]: Mark Knopfler (feat. Gerry Rafferty) - The Way It Always Starts

And if you're actually unfamiliar with Baker Street, it just may contain the greatest saxophone riff ever to be imitated drunkenly by people all over the world. You're welcome:

[ mp3 ]: Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street

All in all, Local Hero is best enjoyed on a stormy evening, with a glass of scotch and a hunting dog curled up at your feet. It's got a timeless, almost Celtic feel. Has anyone actually seen this movie, by the way? From its Netflix description, it's supposed to be a four-star comedy. And I got no issue with Burt Lancaster. He had me at Moonlight Graham. Might be worth a look.

Let me know what you think.

10/6/2010 12:28:46 am

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