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Verse Chorus Verse: Mark Knopfler – “Prairie Wedding”

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Yesterday was Mark Knopfler's 60th birthday. I wish I'd known because we'd have talked about this song then. My trusty sidekick 11 and I were talking about his upcoming album and how eager we are to see him in concert again and over the course of that conversation, he stumbled on to the fact Knopfler was turning 60.

I've spent more time listening to Knopfler since seeing him in Nashville last summer than just about any artist on my iPod not named Bruce Springsteen. One of the songs I've become most obsessed with is “Prairie Wedding” from his Sailing to Philadelphia record.

There's a tendency to think of arranged marriage from a feminist perspective and that women were being auctioned off like cattle. It's important, as women have historically gotten a raw deal but in “Prairie Wedding,” Knopfler gives voice to the trepidation a man in such an arrangement might feel. He's got dreams of a life with love and affection and he's not taking for granted his soon-to-be bride is entering their relationship with those kinds of feelings for him.

Do you think that you could love me, Mary?
Do you think we got a chance at a life?
Do you think that you could love me, Mary?
Now you are to be my wife

Knopfler wrote one of the classic love songs while with Dire Straits, “Romeo & Juliet.” He may have topped himself with this bit:

I guarantee she looked like an angel
I couldn't think of what I should say
But when Adam saw Eve in the Garden,
I believe he felt the selfsame way

I don't know that I've ever heard that "love at first sight" or "instant attraction" expressed better.

Making the song even better is the gorgeous harmony vocal from Gillian Welch. The music, the lyric, and the choice of co-vocalist demonstrate Knopfler's deep understanding and appreciation for the history and essence of Americana.

Belated Happy Birthday, Mark. I'm looking forward to the new record and hope to see you at Ryman in '10.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • Rich.

    Could not agree more.

  • http://www.confessionsofafanboy.com Josh Hathaway

    Thanks, Rich. Get Lucky comes out Tuesday.