The songs that have been on my mind the most this week:
- “Romeo and Juliet,” Dire Straits, from the 1980 album “Making Movies.”
- “Love Story,” Taylor Swift, from her 2008 album “Fearless.”
Maybe I’m just in a romantic mood this week, or maybe I’ve just got a penchant for Shakespearean tragedy. But I’ve had these two very different musical takes on the Bard’s most famous play alternately running through my head.
With its arpeggiated guitar opener, delicately intricate instrumentation and Mark Knopfler’s distinctive vocal delivery, Dire Strait’s melancholy “Romeo and Juliet” has become a classic rock ballad. It’s been covered by several artists, including The Killers, Indigo Girls and Edwin McCain. It also has been featured in many movies, though it always reminds me of the 1995 comedy-drama “Empire Records,” which boasts a strong ’90s soundtrack.
Teenage country-pop singer-songwriter Taylor Swift takes a much more unabashedly romantic approach in her hit “Love Story,” which has a happy ending. This is a song that has slowly grown on me. Initially, it was too syrupy for me – and honestly, it still comes across as extremely happy-happy – but I eventually warmed to the teenage optimism and the lovely instrumentation, particularly the soaring fiddle.
Of course, these aren’t the only popular songs to gain inspiration from Shakespeare’s well-known play, but they do offer contrasting views of his age-old story of star-crossed love.