So when I crumbled to Mark Knopfler's charms, it was via his last few solo release, not Dire Straits, whose music I continued to resist. It was stumbling upon "Sultans of Swing" that did it, however. That familiar Knopfler twang rings out throughout the song and carries us through to one of the finest guitar solos I have ever heard - a real "goosebumps because it's so powerful and emotional" kind of moment. Live at the BBC found its way into my collection, followed quickly by the self-titled first album, much of which is found on BBC. And then it was Making Movies, and, most recently, Communiqué.
But Communiqué had to remain on the shelf for a little while, not because of a fear that the overexposed Dire Straits I used to fear would rear its head, but simply because music like this takes the right circumstances to come to life for a listener like me. Many albums I can hear and appreciate, but it takes that special moment, and a certain spontaneity, for some things to really click. Today was that day for Communiqué, where I was able to hear it without the fog of expectation hanging over me, and it was able to reveal itself as an album full of the delicate subtleties that makes Mark Knopfler shimmer - that deep tobacco-soaked voice, the quick, fluid guitar, and the wit behind many of his lyrics.
Knopfler possesses the too often ignored ability to understate just the right elements and come out with something that knocks the attentive listeners on their asses. It's a gift that has never been overly abundant in popular music, but when it's discovered, it's a rich, abundant source of beauty. Communiqué is precisely that kind of album - it has the reputation of being one of the lesser Dire Straits offerings, and yet, it seems, for the right listeners, it ascends to status of "favorite." I may start considering myself one of those listeners.