I have been known to rail against those who conflate the artist with the art; those poor unfortunate souls who seek moral perfection and infinite wisdom in the character of their favourite rock star or actress and who are so bitterly dismayed at any shortcomings of their idol.
And yet, and yet, I take irrational pleasure in the absolutely gentle and lovely Mark Knopfler, the perfect balance of sweetness and dark, of romance and good humour, the completely un-bitter, un-angry sarcasm which flow through his songs surely emanate from the same qualities in himself?
But what happened to those qualities as he became older and older, and made “Privateering”? It is a cliche as old as hell to complain about musicians getting older and not making the kind of music you like them to make- I once remember Sharam Nazeri screaming at the audience in a live concert that he was sick of singing “jam-e mastan miresand”, and he was damn well going to play his new music and we, the audience were damn well going to listen. And you all know about Chinese Democracy blah blah blah. Even though some of the Chinese Democracy songs are way better than some of the Appetite songs. But tell that to an ageist.
Privateering. So folksy. I downloaded it (sorry Mark! But you can do without my contribution to your retirement fund), and listened through, a couple of times. There is nothing to hold on to. Nothing stuck in my mind. I really wanted to like it, to discover my next favourite Mark Knopfler song, but the magic didn’t happen. The tunes jangled, and sounded more or less all the same. No blend of sweetness and darkness. No “hawaiian noises”.