Why Worry

From the Spanish guitar intro by Chet Atkins to the final harmonized line by Don and Phil Everly, there’s little that isn’t lovely about the live performance (embedded below via YouTube) of Mark Knopfler’s song “Why Worry.”

That’s from 1986, and the Everly Brothers recorded the song for their album from that same year titled Born Yesterday.Knopfler had recorded it with Dire Straits the previous year, but apparently had written it with the Everly Brothers in mind.

And there’s a neat piece of mysterious musical symmetry that just struck me about this song. Twenty years after the Everlys’ performance above, Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris released a collaborative album called All the Roadrunning.They didn’t record “Why Worry” on that, but when they went out on tour, the song became part of their regular set list. It represents musical symmetry to my mind because Emmylou Harris had hit the heights of perfection on a fair few occasions during her career by mining the Everly Brothers’ catalog; I’m thinking especially of those great Felice and Boudleaux Bryant songs like “Love Hurts” and “Sleepless Nights.” So how does she do with a song written decades later with the Everly Brothers in mind? Well, again, it just fits her like a glove. A fan’s recording of a live version of it is embedded below via YouTube.

Mysterious, symmetrical, beautiful.

I think the song is without doubt one of Mark Knopfler’s greatest. I was never the biggest Dire Straits fan, but I like what he’s done since the end of the group quite a bit better, and to me this song fits well with his latter-day material. You might notice this sometimes with songwriters as they age; they start out precocious, but dedicated to the belief that the more they pile into a song the better it is, and that obscurity is a virtue. If they’re good enough, they learn as they get older that simplicity and directness can be both more challenging and more rewarding.

Baby, I see this world has made you sad
Some people can be bad
The things they do, the things they say
But baby, I’ll wipe away those bitter tears
I’ll chase away those restless fears
That turn your blue skies into grey

Why worry
There should be laughter after the pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now


It has a quasi-religious quality, which I think is what makes it. It’s a little bit of the Sermon on the Mount, is it not? How does that go? “Consider the lilies of the field … be not anxious … why worry?”

Something like that.

……

The Everly Brothers on iTunes.

Mark Knopfler on iTunes.

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