Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris – Making History (Godfather GR-231)


Making History (Godfather GR-231)

Arena di Verona, Italy – June 3rd, 2006

Right Now, Michelangelo, I Dug Up A Diamond, Born To Run, Romeo & Juliet, Song For Sonny Liston, Belle Starr, This Is Us, All The Roadrunning, Speedway At Nazareth, If This Is Goodbye, So Far Away, Our Shangri-La, Why Worry

The Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris collaboration culminated with the release of All The Roadrunningin April, 2006.  The result of almost eight years of sessions, they produced one of the unique albums in many years.  Some commentators leveled criticism towards the work, point out that the disparate session work reduced the power that was inherent in the material.  But what first glance looks like a bizarre pairing of British pop rock with American Country & Western actually works on many different levels with many original songs shining with unparalleled beauty. 

The tour of Europe began a month after the album’s release on May 26th in Brussels and ended on June 13th in Barcelona.  Verona occurs right in the middle and was broadcast on German radio NDR4.  The sound quality is perfectly balanced and official quality. Although the complete show circulates online, this release is missing “Red Staggering,” “Red Dirt Girl,” “Done With Bonaparte,” and “Boulder To Birmingham.”

The touring band accompanying Knopfler and Harris consists of  Guy Fletcher on keyboards, Richard Bennett on guitar, Glenn Worf on bass, Danny Cummings on drums, Matt Rollings on keyboards, and Stuart Duncan on fiddle and mandolin.  The set list consists of  “Right Now,” “I Dug Up A Diamond,” “Belle Star,” the first single “This Is Us,” “All The Roadrunning,” and “If This Is Goodbye” from the new album interspersed with various singles from Harris’ and Knopfler’s solo outing and old Dire Straits songs. 

The show begins with “Right Now” and afterwards Knopfler says, “Great to be here in this beautiful city.”  Harris continues by saying, “this is a beautiful city and in the thirty years of being on the road this is the most magnificent.”  “Michelangelo” from Harris’ Red Dirt Girl follows and the show continues with the brilliant “Born To Run” followed by the profound Knopfler tunes “Romeo & Juliet” and “Song For Sonny Liston.”  

Three new songs follow including the first single “This Is Us.”  The stars take turns singing the verses in this song which posits memory as being determinative for shared identity.  It is sincere without being too saccharine and is the product of adult reflection upon marriage.  After “Speedway At Nazareth” the audience engage in a long chant which serves as a prelude to another highlight of the set when they play the final song from All The Roadrunning “If This Is Goodbye.”  This song written by Knopfler was inspired by the piece “Beyond Belief” by English novelist Ian McEwan and published in The Guardian after the events of 9/11. 

Harris said in an interview at the album’s release, “It’s a song that gets beyond anything political, it’s a song about those individuals and the tragedy that happened and puts it in a context that anyone can embrace. It’s not a red song or a blue song, it’s just about human beings and the terrible things that can sometimes happen.”  Making History is packaged in a tri-fold gatefold sleeve with several photos of the event on the artwork.  It is a fascinating show by an interesting collaboration and is worth having.

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