Detholz! demo – “Sultans of Swing”

Welcome to the Detholz! Blog, Episode XXX!

(I guess that’s every week, though, right?)

And welcome back to the Detholz! “MARCH OF DEMOS,” where we’re posting demos that made the cut onto our full-length albums all month!

To celebrate the DH! Mp3 Blog’s XXXth (XXXist?) birthday, this week a demo from our covers album, “Jukebox of the Dead,” replete with XXX backstory! Mark Knopfler’s jukebox git-tar classic played at biker bars the world over, perhaps even right now:


This is a case where the demo might have turned out a little better than the full band recording you’ll find on “Jukebox of the Dead,” even though this recording is warty, at best. It was made in the Dark Ages before I knew or understood anything about how to record a proper demo, so you’ll hear lots of hiss, over-compression and a very murky, elephantine mix.

Still, there’s some “there” there, I think… more so than on the final album version. Funny how it works that way sometimes…

OK, so rather than chew through all of the in’s and out’s of how this was arranged, composed and all of that musical drudgery, I’d prefer to tell you why I chose this particular song in the first place. It’s an inspiring story from an inspiring city:


My brother lived in squalor in Baltimore for a brief period when he was attending the Peabody Conservatory of Music in the late 80’s/early 90’s. His apartment window was right above a restaurant dumpster and was home to the smells of burnt animal fat and rotten eggs, to name a few of the more savory ones. He came home routinely to rats as big as cats hanging out in his bathtub, and was known to bash their brains in with a broomhandle when they got out of line.

Ahh, Baltimore! (Actually, Baltimore is one of my favorite cities in which to tour and play shows. Those people really know how to dial it up a notch!)

One sticky summer night, on his way home from a job flipping reams of paper at Kinko’s, he passed by a dank alleyway from which Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing” was blaring at an ear-splitting level– over and over again. Being of a curious ilk, my brother doubled back and peered into the alleyway. A faint light spilled out from an open window on the lefthand side. As he crept quietly up to the bottom of the windowsill, the music grew louder, and he heard regular banging sounds, in time with the music:

Bang-bang-bang! A-Bang Bang, Bang! Bang, Bang!

He peered up into the window and he saw…

How shall I put this?


You know what? Never mind. Whatever you’re imagining, it’s far, far worse. Eliot Spitzer, eat your heart out. Feel free to make a comment and take a guess. There’s a free shirt in it for the most creative response! (And though this is a naughty story, try to keep it clean, people.)

Anyway, this arrangement was inspired by my brother’s sordid tale, and the original version of “Sultans of Swing” has been ruined for me forever. So much for the biker bar.

Tune in next week for a more savory selection (I promise!) from the Detholz! demo file… *shudder*


21 Responses to “Detholz! demo – “Sultans of Swing””

  1. WOTSAC Says:

    Oh, I remember the story. He was carving a nine foot tall statue of Jesus from old sweaters and library paste.

  2. WOTSAC Says:

    Erp… it was actually Elvis.

  3. detholz Says:


    That one’s going to be tough to beat, folks.

    Jamesie, I’m shining up your shirt for you…

  4. Amy Says:

    This is so *gleeful* in comparison to the album cut. There’s a manic glee in “swinnnnnng!” that just makes the song. That syllable is the point where the narrative goes from blah descriptive to some sort of bizarre circus tent revival. (Incidentally, that’s also the best moment in a lot of art, be it music, cartoon, or story — the point where everything is turned upside down. The juxtaposition of incongruities is where the listener/reader/viewer’s viewpoint is transformed and the heart or intent of the art is revealed.)

    I’m working on an ending to your brother’s sordid story… Is this Detholz Mad-Libs? “A [noun] was [verbing] an [adjective] [noun] in an [adverbial] manner…” Stay tuned.

  5. kebabdylan Says:

    owen wilson attempting to straighten out his nose with a hammer?

  6. Jim Says:

    All I’m able to picture is the scene in Little Nicky when Ron Howard’s brother is spilling candle wax on his chest in a frilly nighty.

    We’re never gonna hear the real story, are we?

  7. Jim Says:

    Looking at the tags for this blog, I’m noticing that ‘morbid obesity’ is one of them. So here’s what it was:

    Your brother stumbled upon the bottom of a Hellman’s mayonnaise jar being bang bang banged against a headboard while the other end was being ‘filled’ by an overly excited fat man.

  8. WOTSAC Says:

    Behave yourself Jim.

    While I forget the details of the story – suffice that it was worse.

  9. Jim Says:

    Oh come on.
    I had to “bring it”.

  10. dj Says:

    Was is renowned physicist Stephen Hawking “working out some wormhole physics” with an assistant?

  11. dj Says:

    That should say, “Was it…”

    Apologies to the grapmophobes.

  12. detholz Says:

    Amy: This was always a barn-burner live b/c of the “evil glee” factor — it comes across more effectively on the demo than it does on the full band recording. Why? Who knows– other than it was a hurried studio session, as I recall, and we were all a little tired.

    I remember a Beloit College “Jukebox of the Dead” show a few years back where this song literally brought the house down– the ceiling caved in on us!

    Detholz! Mad Libs it is, which is 100x more amusing than the truth. There’s more elemental truth in Mad Libs, anyway.

    ‘Bab: Would Owen Wilson’s nose produce such a loud report? In retrospect, I suppose it would!

    Jim: No. Never. You are very observant, however. I’ll give you that.

    And WOTSAC’s right. It was much, much worse.

    DJ: If he WAS working on wormholes, “was is” is entirely appropriate. Last I checked, though, Professor Hawking does not maintain a Baltimore office.

  13. dj Says:

    I may have blocked most of the facts of the story from my mind, but I think the real event included centerfolds.

    And if they were allowed to re-submit their “likes” and “dislikes” lists, they would’ve all added something very specific.

  14. Jim Says:

    C’MON! What the heck was it?!
    i’m dyin’ over here…

  15. Amy Says:

    Here’s my suggestion for what happened. It’s gross:

    Bang-bang-bang! A-Bang Bang, Bang! Bang, Bang!

    He peered up into the window and he saw…

    Unbelieving, he rubbed his eyes and looked again. No, the scene hadn’t changed. Right there, just on the other side of the glass —

    “Pervert! What are you, a peeping tom?” A homeless man was yelling, stabbing his finger accusingly toward my brother. “Pervert!”

    “No, no, I just — well, just look!”

    The homeless man turned and squinted through the dirty windowpane. With a sudden intake of breath, he stepped backwards, sputtering. “Unatural, that’s what it is. Holy… What would make a man *do* that?”

    My brother had no answer.

    A woman in a dirty butcher’s apron came up and tried to hand my brother a crumpled twenty. “You selling?” Before he could answer that no, he wasn’t a crack dealer, she slapped her hand over her eyes. “Is that — is that guy doing what I think he’s doing?”

    “I think so,” my brother admitted.

    “Oh, my god. I think I’m gonna be sick.” She stumbled over to the wall and gagged.

    “It’s kinda hypnotic,” said the homeless man, still watching the window. “In a zen kind of way, I mean. The repetitiveness.”

    My brother wondered if he should call the police.

    The woman moaned and walked away, leaving a stinking puddle of sick in the alleyway. The homeless man began to bob his head along with the rhythm of the hammer swinging, which in turn synchronized with Mark Knopfler’s nasal drones.

    My brother ripped his eyes away from the rats and the man with the hammer, and the other man in the easy chair with his hand in his lap. “I’m going home.”

    “So long,” said the homeless man.

  16. kebabdylan Says:


  17. dj Says:

    yeah. double wow.

    So, wow. wow.

  18. Amy Says:

    It was a bit much, wasn’t it?

  19. kebabdylan Says:

    i mean’t wow in a “good way” wow.

    never has an answer left me more confused than the initial question.

    dj, stop ripping me off.

    And jim, Owen Wilson is in fact a robot, so yeah, it would make that sound.

  20. detholz Says:

    Amy: Interesting take. Reminds me of a story a dominatrix friend told me once about strange scenarios involving insects and GI Joe figures.

    Thanks for writing– a very entertaining read in the spirit of Richard Matheson!

    ‘Bab: Owen Wilson’s sins are many, but by virtue of his role in “Royal Tenebaums,” I’m afraid I must give him a pass.

  21. Amy Says:

    Richard Matheson?! *swoon*

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