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with Jesus

By David Werther.

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, All the Road Running (Warner Bros. Records Inc. ISBN: 9362 44154 2)

           Mark Knopfler's evocative guitar-playing is exquisite and Emmylou Harris's singing is impeccable. Still, one might have wondered whether a CD mixing Knopfler's rough voice and Harris's crystal-clear singing would work. It does. The combination of Harris's tenderness and Knopfler's toughness complement each other well.

           The majority of the songs (10 of the 12) are Knopfler's, and in most of them the breeze of the book of Ecclesiastes is blowing. There is a sad realism, a restlessness, and a skepticism about the significance of life. In "I Dug up a Diamond," there is the possibility of finding a treasure but the realization that the possession of it is fleeting.

I dug up a diamond
rare and fine
I dug up a diamond
in a deep dark mine
if only I could cling to my beautiful find

So, too, in "Beyond my Wildest Dreams." For the working man, love can never be ideal because there is always forced separation.

they promised me some good home time
and some layover pay
the agent he's a friend of mine
says it's due my way
I'd drive a thousand miles
haul a trailer of tears
just to see you smile

           In the title track, the topic of Ecclesiastes becomes explicit: "and if it's all for nothing, all the roadrunning has been in vain." "All the Road Running" is followed by the final track, "If This is Goodbye," which Knopfler notes was inspired by 9/11 cell phone calls. For a moment Knopfler suggests that there is a kind of "glory" in final pronouncements of love as we face our deaths, but even there he is reticent: "who knows if there is a plan." Having recently reread the biography Let's Roll, I am inclined to answer: Todd Beamer did. That said, this work is as good as it gets "under the sun."

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