What type of music would you say Sultans of Swing is?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by 2020jan08, Feb 23, 2020.

  1. 2020jan08

    2020jan08 Member

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    Flamenco-based country blues?

    It's such a great tune that so many of us love, but it's such a weird song. Long lyrics, which basically is just a guy's impression/description of a little club/pub in London, with music that, to my mind, doesn't really fit the lyrics. A bit dramatic/flashy/lilting music v. the low-key, non-dramatic atmosphere in the lyrics.

    Yet, here it is 40+ years down the road, making people smile and wanting to pick up a guitar and make it cry and sing.

    What a tune.

     
  2. Gig Young

    Gig Young You donut send me flowers anymo Silver Supporting Member

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    That's a gd description.
     
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  3. Kurt L

    Kurt L Member

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    Rock.

    That first Dire Straits album carved out its own sub-genre (niche) but it’s still rock.
     
  4. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    It's got a Spanish sort of thing to it and the chord progression is a Flamenco type chord progression, Andulsian Cadence.

    There are also Country/Blues licks in it.

    It's also got a rolling sort of rhythm.

    I'd call it a rolling shuffle rhythm.

    https://www.loudersound.com/features/the-story-behind-the-song-dire-straits-sultans-of-swing

    “We were living on next to nothing and weren’t even able to pay the gas bill,” Illsley says, adding that they weren’t called Dire Straits for nothing. “The first time I heard Mark playing a version of Sultans Of Swing was in that flat, but the song was completely different.”

    Even Knopfler thought it lacked spark. But the song took on a smouldering blues groove after he scrabbled enough money together to buy a 1961 Stratocaster.

    Illsley recalls: “One day he said to me: ‘Remember that song I was fiddling about with the other day? I’ve completely redone the chord structure.’ He played it, and it sounded pretty good. The whole thing is incredibly simple, it’s the playing that makes it intriguing. It’s that rolling rhythm on the guitar and a very simple bass and drums approach. Then, of course, it’s a story. And let’s face it, all good songs have a story.”
     
  5. derekd

    derekd Member

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    That came out in 1978. I was a junior in HS that year.

    Old rock.

    Still, a pretty cool tune. Has held up better than other tunes of that time.
     
  6. SteveO

    SteveO Member

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    I simply consider it good music.
     
  7. dlguitar64

    dlguitar64 Member

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    To me, this was WAY more interesting than EVH at the time.
     
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  8. 2020jan08

    2020jan08 Member

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    I'd also call it "rock", but it's very "unrocky". Especially the studio version. It almost sounds like something Hank Marvin and The Shadows would play. The live versions became a lot more aggressive, until Knopfler went solo and played like he did with the original four piece.
     
  9. derekd

    derekd Member

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    Yeah, rock covers such a wide range of tones/tunes.

    From Chuck Berry to Van Halen.
     
  10. Buzzard Luck

    Buzzard Luck Member

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    Dm C Bb A, is a basic ‘101’ level folk or Spanish set of chord changes. The harmonic complexity lies at the end, wherein the raised ( or natural) 7th would be ideal, but many guitar players keep chopping away (blooze) and keep whacking a C over an A major chord.

    The tune itself is every single bit as vital a piece of rock as Hendrix ‘All along the watchtower’ IMO.

    It was ‘understated’ and ‘ironic’ and ‘British’ sounding. Different, yet similar, it fit perfectly next to most big$ American rock radio tunes at the time. The gentle upclick of the tempo, but lowered level of histrionics increased its versatility.

    I was spending a lot of time on the road in those days driving an automobile all over the place back when radio stations still mattered, and Dire Straights hit a nerve with American midwestern radio.

    When they came back just a few years later with the Sting song, it was a ‘hand over fist’ payday for them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
  11. Brad2

    Brad2 Member

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  12. 2020jan08

    2020jan08 Member

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    Well, they never went away between 78 and 85 (not 1-2 years later); they released three studio albums, one live album, toured incessantly and built a big fan base. But the Brothers in Arms album, and the Money For Nothing hit, helped them really take off and make it big.

    In my estimate, they stroke lucky twice.
     
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  13. TheMemoryEstate

    TheMemoryEstate Member

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  14. 2020jan08

    2020jan08 Member

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    That's a stretch, I'd say.
     
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  15. Hackdog69

    Hackdog69 Silver Supporting Member

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    Anyone know what a 61 strat cost in 1977? Had to be a lot more than a gas bill?
     
  16. ChipOnly

    ChipOnly Member

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    It's rock music. Sorted!
     
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  17. jazjamr

    jazjamr Member

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    Has a bit of an Otis Rush swing to it.
     
  18. ned7flat5

    ned7flat5 Member

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    In ‘77, I sold my ‘62 for AUD$350 which was the price of my domestic airline ticket to four decades of obscurity and broken dreams. That was pretty much market price as I (regretfully) remember.

    From what I now have read, and for what it’s worth, a buck averaged around $0.90 AUD that year.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
  19. 68dripedge

    68dripedge Supporting Member

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    My wife’s uncle bought a ‘59 Strat in the early 80’s for around $300, so I’d imagine he might’ve paid even less than that.
     
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  20. FenderBigot

    FenderBigot Supporting Member

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    There’s a YT vid out there where MK talks about his influence for that song... I will try to hunt it down.
     
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