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Dire Straits - Telegraph Road - Live Alchemy Tour 1983

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.


A long time ago came a man on a track

Walking thirty miles with a sack on his back

And he put down his load where he thought it was the best

Made a home in the wilderness

He built a cabin and a winter store

And he plowed up the ground by the cold lake shore

And the other travelers came walking down the track

And they never went further, no, they never went back

Then came the churches then came the schools

Then came the lawyers then came the rules

Then came the trains and the trucks with their loads

And the dirty old track was the telegraph road

Then came the mines - then came the ore

Then there was the hard times then there was a war

Telegraph sang a song about the world outside

Telegraph road got so deep and so wide

Like a rolling river...

And my radio says tonight it's gonna freeze

People driving home from the factories

There's six lanes of traffic

Three lanes moving slow...

I used to like to go to work but they shut it down

I got a right to go to work but there's no work here to be found

Yes and they say we're gonna have to pay what's owed

We're gonna have to reap from some seed that's been sowed

And the birds up on the wires and the telegraph poles

They can always fly away from this rain and this cold

You can hear them singing out their telegraph code

All the way down the telegraph road

You know I'd sooner forget but I remember those nights

When life was just a bet on a race between the lights

You had your head on my shoulder you had your hand in my hair

Now you act a little colder like you don't seem to care

But believe in me baby and I'll take you away

From out of this darkness and into the day

From these rivers of headlights these rivers of rain

From the anger that lives on the streets with these names

'Cos I've run every red light on memory lane

I've seen desperation explode into flames

And I don't want to see it again...

From all of these signs saying sorry but we're closed

All the way down the telegraph road


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