Song of the Day #3,582: ‘Silvertown Blues’ – Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler’s Sailing to Philadelphia is my third favorite album of 2000. This was Knopfler’s second solo effort (not including soundtrack work) and the first album of his I really dug into since 1988’s Dire Straits greatest hits collection Money For Nothing.

I’ve always loved Dire Straits’ sound, particularly Knopfler’s guitar work, but I’m far from a completist. I own Making Movies and Brothers in Arms — classics both — but other than the early hits, that’s it.

But Sailing to Philadelphia struck a nerve and continues to resonate nearly two decades later.

THe album didn’t produce any hits — opening track ‘What It Is’ came closest — but every song on it is a winner. That includes duets with James Taylor and Van Morrison, two voices that blend beautifully with Knopfler’s gentle rasp. Many tracks start slow before building to orgasmic guitar crescendos, played the way only Knopfler can.

Knopfler has released another half dozen solo albums since this one but I haven’t heard a note from any of them. Maybe I should. But I doubt he ever got it this right again.

On Silvertown Way, the cranes stand high
Quiet and gray against the still of the sky
They won’t quit and lay down though the action has died
They watch the new game in town on the Blackwall side

From the poisonous drains a vision appears
New circle of cranes, a new reason to be here
A big silver dome rising up into the dawn
Above the church and the homes were all the silver is gone

If I’d a bucket of gold, what would I do
I’d leave the story untold Silvertown blues
Going down Silvertown
Down in Silverdown
Going down Silvertown
Down in Silverdown

A silver dawn steals over the docks
A truck with no wheels up on cinderblocks
Men with no dreams around a fire in a drum
Scrap metal schemes are rusted over and done

If I’d a bucket of gold, silver would do
I’d leave the story untold Silvertown blues
Going down Silvertown
Down in Silverdown
Going down Silvertown
Down in Silverdown

When you’re standing on thin and dangerous ice
You can knock and walk in for citizens’ advice
They’ll tell you the where you can turn, where you can go
There’s nothing they can tell me I don’t already know

If I’d a bucket of gold, silver would do
I’d leave the story untold Silvertown blues
Going down Silvertown
Down in Silverdown
Going down Silvertown
Down in Silverdown

From the Caning Town train I see a billboard high
There’s a big silver plane raising up into the sky
And I can make out the words ‘seven flights every day’
Says six of those birds are bound for JFK

If I’d a bucket of gold, silver would do
I’d leave the story untold Silvertown blues
And I’m going down in Silvertown
Down in Silverdown
Going down Silvertown
Down in Silverdown

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,582: ‘Silvertown Blues’ – Mark Knopfler

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I haven’t played this album in years (in fact, I could have sworn it came out in the 90’s), but it is a great one.

    On a side note, Dire Straits was just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Knopfler refused to attend the induction ceremony if the rest of the band was there. Must be some major bad blood there, I think stemming from the band continuing to tour under the name Dire Straits without him. So, some other member of the band nobody ever heard of introduced the band and then that same person gave the acceptance speech on behalf of the band, making for quite the long, boring anti-climactic time for the audience.

  2. Rob says:

    If I might make a suggestion, pick up “Love Over Gold”. In my humble opinion it is Dire Straits best work. There are only 5 songs on the album, but they are all killer songs, especially the 14 minute “Telegraph Road”. This is when Knopfler came into his own as a player/arranger and producer. After this LP was released, an EP followed with a few songs recorded during the same time (“Twisting By The Pool” was the single), but didn’t fit the album. Another interesting note … Knopfler also recorded “Private Dancer” during these sessions, but left that off the LP as well as it didn’t fit the mood of the album. A couple of years later it’s a massive hit for Tina Turner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.