Sultans of Strings

Saturday 31st May 2008

I wanted to reply to comments from the last post, but it’s probably gonna get quite long so I thought I’d just write a new post. Most of this is aimed at Andy’s comment…

Something I want to get entirely clear (and probably wasn’t clear in the post) is that I think the Killers’ cover of the song is – on the whole – ok. Passable. Not bad. Note that I avoided any jokes about them “killing” it (despite the obvious temptation). Okay so the guitarist simply can’t play the part, and the tone is awful, but whatever. It sounds OK. But…

Juliet when we made love you used to cry
You said I love you like the stars above, I’ll love you till I die
Theres a place for us, you know the movie song
When you gonna realise it was just that the time was wrong, Juliet ?

So it’s clearly a love song. And to my mind a love song should have some sort of element of passion to it. If you listen to a good one (like the original version of Romeo and Juliet, or Buckley’s version of Hallelujah, or Love Sick by Dylan), that comes in spades. When Knopfler sings the lines I’ve quoted, you can hear the heartbreak in his voice. I don’t get that feeling from The Killers’ version. They’re just going through the motions, which makes the whole exercise pointless. Music is about emotions, about conveying a feeling and telling a story, and a song (or performance) which fails to do that isn’t worth listening to.

So “how fucking dare anyone cover it who doesn’t fully understand the subtle nuance” is half right, I guess. It’s a nuance, but not a subtle one. A love song which is devoid of emotion just seems to defeat the point, and that’s why it’s bad.

It’s not purism by the way. There’s a cover of the same song by The Indigo Girls, and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. They’ve taken the song and performed it in their own way, which is surely the point of a cover? Think of Hendrix’s version of All Along the Watchtower, or Buckley’s Hallelujah; they take other people’s songs and make them their own, and arguably make them better by doing so. But this is straying from the point… What I’m trying to say is that it’s not “how dare anyone cover this!?”, it’s more a case of “meh”.

I disagree with the point about “The guy even says at the start of the video that they won’t do it justice, but that it’s worth doing if they get a Killers fan to listen to Mark Knopfler. They’re on your side, for crying out loud” as well. My main gripe wasn’t that they didn’t perform the song that well – I didn’t like them beforehand, and I remain justified after having heard them do it. My main gripe stems from the comment about “I’m amazed that they’re from England”. If he’d heard any of their songs, he’d know they plainly are from England. A lot of the songs even mention places in England, for fuck’s sake! It just sounds cynical. “Oh, they’re popular, let’s play that…”. Maybe I’m being cynical; maybe someone else in the band wanted to play it, and he’s just going along with it. I don’t know, and perhaps I’m being harsh, but it just irked me.

I also didn’t call them “complete wankers with no skill at all”. I called them “talentless no-ones”, which I should probably take back; they have a talent for writing relatively mediocre poppy songs with a strong chorus, which is popular because of the whole club thing, and bring little new or interesting in terms of musicality. Hey, if you like that sort of thing, fine; I’m not saying it’s wrong for people to like them (as I’ve said before, people want different things from music). I just happen to have a penchant well played, well written, interesting music, so The Killers don’t particularly float my boat. It’s not that I’m a purist (well, maybe a little), it’s just that they’re really bloody dull!

Re: “wanky bullshit”, well you just can’t say that. I doubt you even know most of the people I listen to (without looking at, and of those you know I listen to, how much have you listened to? Very little, I’d wager. Even if you have heard it, still can’t call it “wanky bullshit”. Well, you can, but you’d be wrong :-p

Re: Hendrix is best… That’s slightly more complicated. He really was great, and anyone who disagrees is a fool or a liar. This story particularly amuses me. But… As I said up the page, music is about emotions; about storytelling. So yes, Hendrix was a fantastic performer, and definitely a great technical guitarist, but Knopfler is my favourite purely because of the way he uses a guitar to convey feelings. To quote the great Douglas Adams:

“Mark Knopfler has an extraordinary ability to make a Schecter Custom Stratocaster hoot and sing like angels on a Saturday night, exhausted from being good all week and needing a stiff beer”


Also, that list has Kurt Cobain at number 12, David Gilmour at 82, and Nick Drake nowhere to be seen. It was clearly compiled by idiots.

Anyway, now you see why I didn’t want to write this via phone… I’m probably gonna write some other stuff relating to this week when I’m less tired, but for now I think sleep would be a good idea.

Oh, re: Monaco… I had a few things I wanted to not hear about while I was away: the race, who left the Apprentice, and the Lost finale. I found out the part of the result of the first when someone told me, and the rest when I looked it up afterwards. And then some people were watching The Apprentice on iPlayer the other day whilst I was playing cards with some people, and I kinda caught the end of it. Oops. I’m gonna watch Lost unspoiled tomorrow though, which is good.

The GP result is kinda annoying. I’m in a fantasy league with some people here, where you pick teams & drivers and get points depending on how well you’re doing. I did have a pretty clear lead, but it’s gone down to something like 4 points now because most of my teams did badly. Ho hum. I look forward to watching the recording on Sunday, anyway –  sounds like a pretty damn good race (despite it being the dullest part of your weekend, Flix :-p).

Posted at 12:53 am | Posted In: MusicRant Tagged:



Saturday 31st May 2008, 9:30 pm

I’ve started to appreciate how frustrating it is when people criticise your music taste. I’ve ended up thinking “Well I’m the one listening to it, I don’t see how it’s affecting you.”

So in short, I’m saying nothing :P


Sunday 1st June 2008, 12:04 am

I guess the best people to talk music to are those who listen to it for the same reason you do. I’ve said on here before, I think, that a lot of our “taste” is down to what we want to listen to music for.

You can’t criticise taste, so much (unless people belligerently refuse to listen to something because it’s not scene enough/too popular/old/whatever).


Sunday 1st June 2008, 2:07 pm

Ok, so I’m not going to defend the killers here , but what you’re saying about “emotions” in music is a bit narrow minded because by that you’re saying “When I listen to a song that is a love song, it should sound like a love song”. And that’s silly. Music evolves just like anything else, a love song doesn’t have to be an overdramatic ballad… ahem.


Monday 2nd June 2008, 4:58 pm

I’m not saying it does, just that a love song (or any song, for that matter) should convey the emotion that the song is about. The song that started this whole thing off certainly isnt an overdramatic ballad.

Write a comment: