Okay, I have a small confession to make. Some of the songs I’m posting this weekend have featured on the blog before. Some of those, have appeared in the same section as they are this weekend. Some have not. This one sort of has.
In my book, there’s no finer compliment to pay someone than to tell them that whenever you hear a song, you think of them. No matter how good or bad the song is, it’s the context in which the link is made. Generally, they remind you of people that you like, of good times you had.
This song – although granted, not this version; I thought I’d post this just so you got something slightly different to the last time I posted it – reminds me Groom of the Day (not to be confused with Groomer of the Day), Neil.
When Neil properly came into our lives – and I say properly, because I have a sneaking suspicion that our paths probably crossed at some house parties I used to habitually attend – shortly after I moved to London. I definitely remember he and I discussing the virtues of Ride at the end of one New Year’s Eve night out in Camden. He’d been a long-time friend of Jo and E, long-time friends of Hel and me. Hel and I were sharing a flat in North London at the time, and as the two of them began to date, so Neil would be round at the flat more and more often.
His visits were always a pleasure – for a start, he’s a bloody amazing chef, likes his football (an Everton fan, but not everyone can be perfect) and a music buff. Friday nights began to be a regular thing, and I would often compile a tediously long playlist, often three or four hours long, and the three of us would sit, get drunk, listen to the tunes and slag off our flatmates (in case any of them are reading this, I don’t mean you, I mean those other fuckers. You were just fine.).
As you would probably expect from a playlist I’d put together, the content varied, from the cool, to the not-so-cool, to the definitely-not-cool, and back to the cool again, popping in to check how the not-so-cool were doing, my intent being for us to hear the latter framed in a different way to normal, to reappraise and maybe not to be ashamed to say that actually, that’s not a bad record at all. Pretty much the blueprint for what I try to do here (sometimes, when I can be bothered), I suppose.
One night, as Neil and Hel popped open their second or third bottle of red wine, and I staggered back from the kitchen having made myself another pint of White Russian (yes, you read that correctly – a pint), a song by this band came on. It’s not the one that I’m (re-)posting today, but Neil’s little ears pricked up at the sound of it.
“Jez…..” he began, a little warily. “Do you like Dire Straits…?”
“I like some Dire Straits…but I’ve never met anyone else who does. Or who admits they do anyway.”
A chance to test him, I thought.
“Oh right, what do you like by them?”
“Do you know Telegraph Road?”
Test passed with flying colours.
“Never heard of it,” I said, watching him visibly deflate. “Only joking! ‘Course I do!”
Yes indeed folks, I’m that funny in real life. I blame the heady but deliciously more-ish mix of Vodka, Kahlua, Milk and Ice on this occasion.
And so, my copy of Love Over Gold was dug out, and Telegraph Road played in all it’s fourteen minutes, eighteen seconds-long glory. I lost count of how many times a non-plussed Hel checked her watch in that time. Neil and I were already friends, but now we were friends with a Knopfler-shaped, headband-wearing secret.
Last year (or maybe the year before, I’m lousy at remembering how old people are, mostly because I hope they’ll return the favour), when Neil turned 40, having received a new turntable from Hel,I bought him two albums on vinyl. One – Ride’s Nowhere – he had asked for. The other – Dire Strait’s Love Over Gold – he did not. I’ve never asked him which he plays most. I suspect much will depend on how long Hel’s out of the flat for.
Anyway, here’s the version from their double live album Alchemy. It may not be edgy, but it is monumentally marvellous. If you’ve never heard this, go make yourself a brew, sit back and take it all in. (Not you, Neil, get your tie on.)
And Hel: fear not – this version is only thirteen minutes, thirty-seven seconds long. It’s no less glorious, mind: