#40 Sultans of Swing

#40 Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits

Every year, there used to be this free sort of indoor festival thing at the uni in Sheffield. There were a lot of bands and it was all pretty informal (as things tended to be in those days) and I remember I was sitting on the floor in a hall minding my own business (smack+acid doesn’t leave much room for interest in anything else), when some band came and set-up pretty much around me (they didn’t trouble me to move and given the state I was in, frankly I don’t blame them). I gradually became aware that they’d started to play and I was transfixed (as was everyone else in the hall). They were brilliant – a mixture of JJ Cale and Velvet Underground. I found out after that they had a name and an album, soon to be released, and this is the first single from it.

It may just have been the age I was then, but it seems that there was an awful lot of very good music around and the first album of  Dire Straits was very, very good. One of the best debut albums of all time. Of course, they went downhill pretty quickly after that but I suppose there wasn’t much place else to go.

Some time after this first gig, I was in Morocco somewhere (Tangier I think) and there was a hotel band just down the strip which  played it every night, which re-kindled my interest – particularly in the solo, which I later learnt note for note (thank you Jasper). I think that particular trip was the one which featured getting mugged by two Moroccans toting the biggest knife I’ve ever seen (cartoon size, really) – the thing was the amount of money they asked for was so small we were too busy trying not to laugh for it to be scary.


You get a shiver in the dark
It’s raining in the park but meantime
South of the river you stop and you hold everything
A band is blowin’ Dixie double four time
You feel alright when you hear that music ring

And now you step inside but you don’t see too many faces
Comin’ in out of the rain you hear the jazz go down
Competition in other places
Oh but the horns they blowin’ that sound
Way on down south, way on down south London town

You check out Guitar George, he knows all the chords
Mind he’s strictly rhythm he doesn’t wanna make it cry or sing
Yes and an old guitar is all he can afford
When he gets up under the lights to play his thing

And Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene
He’s got a daytime job, he’s doin’ alright
He can play the honky tonk like anything
Savin’ it up for Friday night
With the Sultans… with the Sultans of Swing

And a crowd of young boys they’re fooling around in the corner
Drunk and dressed in their best brown baggies and their platform soles
They don’t give a damn about any trumpet playing band
It ain’t what they call rock and roll
And the Sultans… yeah the Sultans play Creole


And then the man he steps right up to the microphone
And says at last just as the time bell rings
‘Goodnight, now it’s time to go home’
And he makes it fast with one more thing
‘We are the Sultans… We are the Sultans of Swing’

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