Publisher's note: I have initiated this new segment on BCN, where I determine the Best Music Ever. I do this from my opinion, for what that is worth, where I will measure the best music that I am familiar with.
I do this for two reasons: 1) I want to expose the best music that I know to the rest of us. 2) Popular Music today may be the very worst it has ever been, and that is saying much, since I lived through Disco.
For a list of the contributions to this series, please click here.
Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits helped steer my love of good music through the stinky stuff that was Disco in the late 1970's, and for that I will always be thankful. Not only could these guy rock, but they were exceedingly adept at crafting inextinguishable ballads, such as "Romeo and Juliet", but also the ballad/anthem hybrid, such as the classic "Brothers in Arms".
"Brothers and Arms" was mostly written by creative genius and front man for Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler, about the short and decisive Falklands War between Great Britain and Argentina in 1982. The song's phrasing of verse, embodying the sense of duty of the good warriors that protect we, ordinary people, infused with Mark Knopfler's mournful guitar rendering at key turns in this anthem is the mix that created this classic that artfully well sums up the brotherhood of battle for those that have been called to sacrifice for a society free from tyranny.
Mark Knopler singing "Brothers in Arms" from A Night in London -video capture.
The ballad/anthem "Brothers in Arms" is the titular song for the album Brothers in Arms, released in 1985, to huge critical acclaim. The album is thought to be by some critics, the last great album of the band with On Every Street, released in 1991 after a long studio hiatus for the band, not measuring up to their former successes. I purchased this collection of songs, as I did purchase all of Dire Straits other Albums; and although critics hated it, On Every Street was a decided turn for Mark Knopfler, which continues now - his creating music that suggests a varied influence by music endemic of other nationalities. On Every Street well represented American music - a more traditional take on Rock 'n' Roll, with tinge of blues and country.
But enough critique blather; back to what we are here for - the one great anthem "Brothers in Arms". Below, we offer five six live video versions of the song, beginning with a live rendition performed in Australia, by Dire Straits in 1986, when they were promoting the Album by the same title.
The aforementioned Australia version: Below.
Brothers In Arms
lyrics by Mark Knopfler, melody by Dire Straits
These mist-covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Some day you'll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you'll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms
Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I've witnessed your suffering
As the battle raged high
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms
There's so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones
Now the sun's gone to hell
And the moon riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it's written in the starlight
And every line in your palm
We're fools to make war
On our brothers in arms
This second rendering of the melody form Knopfler's solo performance of A Night in London, which was performed in 1996. I offer these many versions of this classic due to Knopfler's knack of always performing at his utmost in quality, but differently each time: Below.
Eleven years later, we have this edition of "Brothers in Arms" performed by Mark Knopfler in Berlin, and this version does not suffer: Below.
This next version is at the AVO Sessions in 2007, performed in Basel, Switzerland. Speaking for my novice self, Mark Knopler is the guitar player's guitar player: Below.
This version was live in Nimes, France in 1992, when the band toured to promote On Every Street, their last album of songs. You may notice that there is much clapping reminiscent of the standard encore ceremony for a major act, like Dire Straits. For the most part, after the release of "Brothers in Arms" in 1985, the band usually closed with this encore piece; a tradition mostly carried forward by Mark Knopfler in his continuous solo act: Below.
The last bonus version of "Brothers in Arms" was performed in 1988 in South Africa at the birthday for Nelson Mandela. If the song sound markedly different, the guitar rifting, look for Eric Clapton standing on the stage with fellow Brit Knopfler: Below.