Looking for the German FIDELITY Online? Just click here!
Dire Straits - Tunnel of Love

Dire Straits – Tunnel of Love


Prog rock entails tempo changes, classical and jazz reminiscences, extensive instrumental parts and surprising instruments. Because all of this is hard to fit into a three-minute song, there is the long track.

By 1980, progressive rock music was already dead as a doornail. The aesthetic of Dire Straits, one of the most successful bands of the next decade, was completely different: a kind of chewing gum-like country rock feel, but with the sound of an electric blues band. Nevertheless, this formation recorded a whole series of long tracks on their six studio albums (up to 1991). The appeal of these long tracks stems primarily from the extended vocal parts, the extensive guitar solos and an artful dynamic, i.e. effective climaxes and sudden drops into the quiet and gentle.

The fact that the band leader managed everything single-handedly may well be the reason why everything always blended beautifully to form a cohesive whole. Mark Knopfler filled the roles of singer, guitarist, lyricist and composer all in one. But what does “composer” actually mean here? You will look in vain for clear themes and memorable motifs in this band. Knopfler’s vocal and guitar artistry don’t need melodies. His voice sounds relaxed and almost monotonous, a kind of sprechgesang, inspired by J.J. Cale and Bob Dylan. A pleasant contrast to the excitement of the punk rock that was in vogue at the time.

You might think this music was cool American, but the Straits were a quintessentially British band. Knopfler grew up in Scotland and the north of England – and the song “Tunnel Of Love” is also reminiscent of this region. More specifically, he mentions the “Spanish City”, a well-known amusement park and fairground in Whitley Bay near Newcastle. The intro, played by a fuzzy electric organ with piano accompaniment, immediately evokes the fairground feeling – we hear Richard Rodgers’ “Carousel Waltz”. We quickly realize that the “Tunnel of Love” is nothing more than a fairground ride.

Dire Straits - Tunnel of Love

But of course the title and the fairground are also to be understood metaphorically. In the lyrics, Knopfler tells of a chance encounter with a girl at a fairground: they spend a few hours together, have fun, but remain strangers, don’t introduce themselves to each other – and lose each other again. The refrain “And the big wheel keep on turning” is heard three times with the ending “On the tunnel of love”. A kind of secondary refrain begins with “And girl, it looks so pretty to me…”.

The song maintains its driving mid-tempo throughout. In the middle there is an accentuated instrumental part (3:34 to 4:05), almost a riff, to which the drums and guitar play a few fills. At two points (at 2:49 and 5:04), the music changes to a quiet reflectiveness, sometimes accompanied by organ sounds, the other time by piano. When the accompaniment almost falls silent, the big guitar solo starts at 6:00 using Knopfler’s tried and tested fingerpicking technique. Some consider it to be his best improvisation on record – an extended, intensifying conclusion.

“Tunnel Of Love” was made famous by the film An Officer and a Gentleman with Richard Gere. “Spanish City”, the amusement park in Whitley Bay, also used the song as its theme song. Incidentally, Dire Straits were officially only a trio at the time of the recording – Knopfler’s brother David had left the band shortly beforehand in a dispute. The organ and piano parts came from guest musician Roy Bittan, Bruce Springsteen’s long-time accompanist.

Dire Straits – Making Movies on discogs.com

The stated retail price of the reviewed device is valid as of the time of the review and is subject to change.