45RPM: Romeo & Juliet (Indigo Girls and Dire Straits)

Where I match a song to a specific memory.

 The Indigo Girls “Rites of Passage” came out when I was refusing to get over my first boyfriend breaking up with me.  This song was the last song on side one of the cassette, and the amount of power and hurt in Amy Ray’s voice sent me quickly unfolding the lyrics sheet in the case to read the words along with her.  There was only a title and songwriters’ names and no lyrics.  Blast!  It was a cover!  No matter, through repeated play, I had them down in no time and could belt them out right along with Ms. Ray.  It was an excellent song for encapsulating my scab-picking-of-the-broken-heart mental state, and I loved it.  At one point it was playing when my friend April was around.  “Hey, this is Dire Straits.  My parents have the album.”  So then I knew who wrote it.  But I never heard the original until…

…I was leaving for college early that morning.  To be more precise, my entire family was leaving to drive me to college several states away.  I had spent the last few days/weeks/an entire year saying goodbye to people, packing, sorting things, planning.  I served my last two weeks at Pizza Hut, an ex-boyfriend stopped by to give me a good-luck card, I dreaded leaving my cat.  It was incredibly early–possibly even five o’clock in the morning–and I stumbled awake and into the bathroom, flipped on the radio and went about my getting ready duties for the last time as a regular resident of the house.  And there, right in the middle of washing my face, I realized the song I was hearing, the song with the simple guitar accompaniment and the quiet lyrics, was Dire Straights “Romeo and Juliet.”  Mark Knopfler’s song was a sadder, more accepting version of loss and it fit perfectly with the many goodbyes I had just given.  To this day, I love both versions for different reasons.

4 thoughts on “45RPM: Romeo & Juliet (Indigo Girls and Dire Straits)”

  1. I love them both too! A lover once put the Dire Straits version on a mix tape for me; that was the first time I'd heard it, and given the context, I totally fell for it (I probably would have anyway). And (as I think you know? was I learning it last time I saw you?) I am learning to play it on ukulele.

  2. I also love this song, and always knew the IG version first. It is a very powerful and evocative song.

    I quite like this turn of phrase: my scab-picking-of-the-broken-heart mental state. Nicely written. It so encapsulates the angst of a teenage break-up, any break-up, really.

  3. I'm feeling vaguely embarrassed that I didn't know Mark Knoppler had been in Dire Straits. Of course, I only recently discovered that Danny Elfman was in Oingo Boingo (and I only discovered that by reading Ready Player One). Now I feel like I need a better grasp of music history.

    Anyway, I like this song but I've never been a fan of Indigo Girls.

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