The Telegraph Road is a major north-south 70 mile thoroughfare in Michigan. Mark Knopfler was inspired to write this song while riding in the front of the tour bus, which made the journey down Telegraph Road. At the time, Knopfler was reading the novel The Growth Of the Soil by the Nobel Prize winning Norwegian author Knut Hamsun and he was inspired to put the 2 together and write a song about the beginning of the development along Telegraph Road and the changes over the ensuing decades. This was a metaphor for the development of America and the ruining of one man's dreams in the wake of its decline, in particular focusing on unemployment.
This is the opening track on the album. It clocks in at 14 minutes 15 seconds.
Suggestion credit: Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2
Kelly from Colorado I had always thought this was written about the Lincoln Hwy/Interstate 80, the original American path across our country from east to west. The original route for the Pony Express then the first telegraph system and the first intercontintal railroad. I always pictured in my mind from the first line of the song about the man with a pack to have been at the southern tip of Lake Michigan around Gary Indiana and the rest to describe the continued development that turned into Chicago. I'm happy to discover that i wasnt that far off. This song will always remind me of the years I spent shuttling freight back and forth from Chicago to Sacramento across I 80.
Guy from Tel Aviv, IsraelIn the 1995 movie Trainspotting the hero Mark Ranton moved from his home town in Belfast Scotland to telegraph road at London.
Susan from Airdrie, -I agree with all of your comments. I'm trying to write what I love most about the song, but just can't. I think I'll listen to it again...
Leo from Westminster 1, MdProbably the best song Mark Knopfler has ever written-It is the British equivalent of Free Bird. Yet Telegraph Road is a sad story about America's absolute terminal decline-Factories closed and love falling apart. Dire Straits were the closest thing Britain had to a jam band and Telegraph Road is their best and most hard-rocking song. They are long overdue for a Hall of Fame nomination because Mark's guitar playing on the Fender Stratocaster is fantastic and brilliant. One of the better classic rock bands of the Seventies and Eighties. Dire Straits are classic rock at its absolute best and Telegraph Road makes that claim.
David from Youngstown, OhThe song's sound is very similar to early Bruce Springsteen - at least it is to me.
T. Michels from Venlo, NetherlandsEpic song, without a doubt their best.
For me, ther is only one way to listen to this masterpiece: Fully without a pause, even if I hear just the silent beginning.
Mark's voice along with the instrumentation create a shivering atmosphere and story where you get sucked into.
The second genious thing about this song is the reprising of the main theme during the coda. (At 12.10 the first one, excuse me that I don't exactly know the other ones.) You hear the music that they played during the 'rise of the town', and now they reprise it for the 'downfall of the town'. How genius.
Scott from Boston, MaThis is such an unbelievable song. One of my all-time favorites.
Andrés from Montevideo, UruguayAmazing song, incredible guitar, this guys ROCKS!
James from Westchester, EnglandSome of the best guitar work ever.
Dave from Houston, TxA beautiful and haunting song. Dire Straits best and my all-time favorite. Too bad it never got any airplay, but radio stations are all about commercial and 14 minutes is way beyond their attention span.
John from AucklandProbably Dire Straits' finest moment this song. The live version on their greatest hits is my favourite. The desperation he manages to convey in his voice is amazing.