Daily Archives: August 28, 2007

Swingin’ to the Sultan’s tune

It’s been a long, long time since I wrote a post. Have been listening to a lot of rock of late. Wanna dedicate this post to my new favorite song.

Yeah, you got it. This post is about the sultans of swing by Dire Straits, and how that song grew on me. Now when I look back,I think maybe it was destined for this song to become my fav.

Before coming to IIIT and being unaware of such a thing called ‘Rock Music’, I’d read an interview of Sachin Tendulkar, in which he said that his personal favorite song was ‘Sultans of Swing’ by Dire Straits. This name stuck, as this was the sobriquet given to the duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. I used to be a big Sachin fan, and thought I’d listen to this song, but couldn’t find it anywhere in my small town of Ajmer in those days, some 7 years ago.

After coming to IIIT, I was introduced to rock by KTN, and Sultans of Swing was one of the first songs that I heard. Although I was fascinated by the quick guitar solo of David Knopfler, the stripped down guitar sound and the hard-to-comprehend, low, throaty vocals did not appeal much to me. I’d heard pop music all along, and was just making the transition. After a whole year of pop (read gay) music, interspersed by soft rock from Eagles and Eric Clapton and also the easily identifiable genius of Steve Vai, it was in my fourth sem that I actually started delving in rock.

In that sem, for the first time, I started paying attention to the lyrics and used to read a lot of songs’ lyrics from the net. This was when Sultans of Swing appealed to me for the first time. I knew the lyrics, but never actually went into what exactly was the song trying to say. I just read the lyrics and used to listen to the song infrequently. This was a time of experimentation. Other bands, with their loud guitar play, power chords, and in case of Pink Floyd, their ‘engulfing’ effect were still more than a match for the simple, stripped down sounds of Dire Straits.

Only in my fifth semester, and after having tried out a really large number of bands, I noticed that Sultans of Swing had an entirely different ‘feel’ to it. I realized that there actually wasn’t any in the bands I’d heard which could be compared to Dire Straits. So simple, yet so effective! Without any processing, the simple sounds and the brilliantly crafted solos instantly created a ‘relaxed’ atmosphere. I drew parallels that if the bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica made ‘Whiskey’ songs and Doors, Nirvana made ‘dope’ songs, the Dire Straits made ‘beer’ songs. Theirs were soothing and relaxing, and I thought Dire straits were like the Jagjeet Singh of Rock, in the sense that they could be enjoyed even when your mind was somewhere else and not exactly in the song, even when you were talking to someone, even when you were thinking of your sweetheart… and the best part was, it was still rock.

Today I pondered over the lyrics of Sultans of Swing for the first time, and I realized the song told their own tale, as far as I was concerned. The song is about a band which is brilliant, but which none likes to listen to. I didn’t appreciate it for full one-and-a-half years. But now it has found it’s place. I listen to it everyday, the wonderful, low humming of Mike Knopfler, the simple, yet crafty guitar play by David, the beautiful lyrics telling the tale of unrecognized genius, and above all, the relaxed, patient atmosphere the song creates. A perfect ‘beer-in-the-evening’ song, which isn’t impatient enough to try to catch your attention by being loud. It waits for you to appreciate it. And when you do that, my god! How this song grows on you!

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