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Sailing to Philadelphia to mix yourself

Today I want to feature a little software that was available as a free dowwnload on the official Mark Knopfler site some years ago. It is a flash mixer with individual tracks of the song Sailing to Philadelphia, in other words, a software mixer that does not only allow to listen to the individual instruments but also to adjust the volume of these. For this reason it was described as “Anatomy of a track”.

The flash mixer allows to listen to individual tracks and to adjust their volume
The flash mixer allows to listen to individual tracks and to adjust their volume

You only need to download one file (mixer.exe) and simply start it on your computer (it requires flash), the individual sound files for each track are already included. Unfortunately the sound quality is not very good due to a heavy compression, and it is only the first two minutes of the song. You will see individual mixer channels for drums, lead guitar, vocals (both Mark Knopfler and James Taylor on the same track), acoustic guitar, bass, and another track for both keyboards plus pedal steel guitar.

It is fun to mix the tracks as you want, and it is very interesting to hear the tracks alone. As effects are already included for each track, you can hear details like the reverb or delays on the lead guitar. And of course it is great to figure out what Knopfler actually plays. Unfortunately the tool does not allow fast forward / backward, so you always have to start from the beginning again.

A real gem is the acoustic guitar, a fingerpicking played by Knopfler that was later overdubbed. Note how his unique way of playing adds so much rhythm and groove to the song, something that unfortunately was never recaptured on live performances of this song. I also tried to play a similar picking on the video I made for another article of this blog, so you might want top check out this one again to see the fingering.

The white '64 Strat that was used for the lead in Sailing to Philadelphia
The white '64 Strat that was used for the lead in Sailing to Philadelphia

The lead guitar was the white ’64 Stratocaster that Knopfler played also on stage during the Sailing to Philadelphia tour. You can clearly hear reverb, compression and delay on this track, also note the deep bass, and the percussice attack.

6 thoughts on “Sailing to Philadelphia to mix yourself

  1. Very interesting

    I’ve always thought that there was 2 electric guitars on this track : the lead one + another one which was “simulating ocean waves” as Mark explained in an interview.
    I thought that this 2nd guitar was played with a pick and tremolo, like RB did on STP tour (on a black gretsch I think). and I thought that this guitar was the one we hear at first : the first chord.

    But now, by listening the lead guitar track, it seems that the “ocean guitar” is the lead one. So the first chord might be played with a pick, and then the rest with fingers ?

    But, if you listen to the “keyboard” track only, you will hear the steel indeed, but also another guitar : simply chords played with pick and tremolo, so maybe RB ?

    just an anecdote : when STP was released, there was a small clip on Mk.com which showed Mark playing STP in studio. It was playback of course, but he was using the 68354. So, even studio mimic can’t be acurate source to know which guitar is used on each son 😉

  2. Yes, you are right, Richard Bennet’s guitar is also on the keyboard/pedal steel track, and yes, I know the video with the mimic on the 68354 guitar.

  3. How do you know that the acoustic guitar was later overdubbed ?
    It could also have been the basic track to record the song with vocals, and then add others elements.

  4. Hi, Ingo,

    The acoustic part of STP is played in open G capo 2nd fret. So open A basically.
    Think about it, try it out, thank me later;-)

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