God knows it’s sometimes tough to get posts up here on Turntablr during the semester. But I absolutely have to gush over Dire Straits, and I don’t mind staying up just a little later to do it. “Wild West End” sits among an album of spectacularly lean and muscular songs, which only serves to make its early Sunday morning groove feel even fresher. From the opening strums of the resonator to Mark Knopfler’s orchestral opening lick, this song feels warm and utterly relaxed.
Perhaps it’s the major key, or Knopfler’s ability to find lyrical beauty in the mundane: “My conductress on the number nineteen, she was a honey…/Greasy greasy hair, easy smile/made me feel nineteen for a while.” You can hear him smile in the vocal delivery. Knopfler doesn’t show off his full guitar hero chops here, and every note he plays is perfectly placed and perfectly tasteful, which is something I admire even more than an ability to play fast. Dig the last few seconds of the track (from about 4:35)—how else could it possibly end?
As I said, this song sounds like a perfect Sunday morning—maybe it’s because Knopfler starts by singing about “Stepping out to Angelucci’s/for my coffee beans,” but I bet it has more to do with the instrumental performances: understated, they are simultaneously incredibly dry and expansive sounding. Most of all, they sound clean. If my adjectives are a little hard to identify with, it’s because this song appeals to me on a purely sonic level, and I might not hear “dry” the same way you do.
This is one of those songs where I almost hate to write about it, because I fear that analyzing it will rob it of its magic. Maybe you should have just started reading this review here, but I wanted to share it with you, because “just ain’t no way/you and me, we can beat/ Walkin’ in the Wild West End.” Enjoy.