The lead vocalist and guitar player from this band, which really blew up in the early 80’s (and then soon after disbanded), went on to become a favorite solo artist of mine.
There are many things about his playing, singing, and songwriting that appeal to me. One of the characteristics of his style that I really admire is the warmth of his sound. Both his playing and his singing are just so mellow and sweet. And his songs and his playing are very melodic and often use fun rhythmic elements (like the drums in Cannibals!).
Another thing about his songwriting that I admire greatly is his ability to write excellent character pieces. He has written songs about Imelda Marcos, Sony Liston, Ray Kroc, and Mason & Dixon, and other real-life people with intriguing histories. He also writes captivating storytelling songs about fictional characters.
I am talking about Mark Knopfler, who rose to fame as the lead singer and vocalist for Dire Straits and later went on to a very productive solo career. While I enjoyed much of his work with Dire Straits, I am more of a fan of his solo work.
Inspired by the songs of Mark Knopfler, I sat down one day to write a character-based song. Hmm? Who would I write about? It didn’t take very long for me to settle on a personal hero – Abraham Lincoln. As a child, I was fascinated by “Honest Abe”.
While history has undoubtedly mythologized Lincoln to some degree, and cast aside possible character flaws, there are plenty of reasons why Lincoln is one of our most favorably remembered leaders. Lincoln led a torn nation through one of its most challenging periods. The “Great Emancipator” is perhaps most notably admired for his vital role in turning America from treating people inhumanly to being a beacon of hope by bringing politicians together to pass the 13th Amendment and end the horror of slavery.
Lincoln rose from a humble background to become a shining star in a world that so often needs heroic figures to inspire us to be the best we can be. I found the example of Lincoln in our history books to be an incredible inspiration and an admirable example that humanity should strive to emulate. As I wrote in my song “Honest Abe”:
“Honest Abe set forth one day
To make his way in the world
Who could have known what destiny held?
Who could have known fate’s course?
A good man can change the world
A humble soul who is willing to try
A good man, an honest man
A good man, ‘til the day he died”
Perhaps there’s a touch of naivety in this reflection, but I prefer a positive perspective. We need to celebrate the best of what we have to offer, and Abraham Lincoln gave so much of himself to his fellow human beings.
I am currently working to put the final touches on the funky little rock song I wrote about Honest Abe and can’t wait to share it with the world! I hope it inspires others just like old Abe inspired me!