TELEGRAPH ROAD

TELEGRAPH ROAD - THE HIGHWAY

Since I've often traveled along the actual Telegraph Road that served as inspiration for Mark Knopfler's song, I thought that perhaps it might be of some interest to expand on the FAQ description of this highway.

Telegraph Road is located in the Detroit, Michigan area. It starts near the airport (S. of Detroit) and pretty much runs in a northern direction to Pontiac, Michigan (and the Pontiac Silver Dome where Mark performed). It's a well traveled highway that often has heavy traffic, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours. It is also known as Route 24 and additionally carries Route 10 traffic on it's northern end.

Telegraph Road intersects a number of other well known Detroit area highways including the Detroit Industrial Freeway, Michigan Avenue, Ford Road, Plymouth Road, Grand River Avenue, the John Lodge Freeway, Twelve Mile Road, Long Lake Road, Lake Road and finally ends at Oakland Avenue.

As one travels from the south to the north, you pass through western sections of the City of Detroit and other areas known as Taylor, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Redford Township, Southfield, Walnut Lake, Bloomfield Hills, Sylvan Lake and finally the City of Pontiac.

A journey along Telegraph Road takes you past or near Ford Motor Company offices, plants, Ford Proving Grounds, Henry Ford College, the Historic Greenfield Village (a National Historic Site), a large Veterans Hospital, General Motors Plants, all manner of plain to upscale office buildings, some Parks and a few golf courses (including historic Oakland Hills, site of a number of U S Opens and other major tournaments).

It also passes lower end, middle class, upper and very wealthy neighborhoods. At it's northern end, just prior to entering urban Pontiac, it passes an area of open fields and a fair number of lakes (small and large) that do look cold and harsh in the winter time.

I never really thought much about Telegraph Road (just another damn highway), until I heard the song. Since that time I've often reflected on what a microcosm of many cities it is. It reflects early history, growth and development, near poverty and extravagant wealth, good times and bad. It's very interesting, to me, that I and so many others just saw traffic (rejoicing when moving along, muttering when going slow) and that Mark could observe so much more and tell a Telegraph Road story in such a creative way.

Guess that's why he's Mark Knopfler and I'm just another guy, headed to the pub for a draft and a bite to eat on a cold dark Friday night.

Writen by Don Bond

You can find photos of the real Telegraph Road here

TELEGRAPH ROAD - SUMMARY

The story and music:

Telegraph Road is perfection...both lyrically and musically. It is a song of epic proportions, a story told in two parts with poetic precision.

The first is historical. In it, "Telegraph Road" optimistically traces the history of a community. The music starts low followed by the light sound of the National Steel, the dawning of a new era. The lyrics describes the founding of a settlement, starting with a lone man establishing a home in the wilderness. The lyrics traces the development of this same community into a city. The music rises and accelerates with the growth. The lyrics depicts this growth through a series of epochal memorable events which take place along a single road, "Telegraph Road."

A musical interlude, marking the passage of time, separates the two parts. This interlude is a masterpiece. As the interludes end, the second half of the story begins.

The second part of "Telegraph Road" is told in the first person and describes the desperate struggle of an individual against the forces of a large city. This is the same city as in the first part of "Telegraph Road," but many years later. In this city, the individual faces the emptiness of a life in a large city filled with factories, unemployment, and economic forces beyond his control. The emotional impact--the resentment, the hatred--is graphically embodied in the lyrics. The music punctuates each emotion, driving home its message.

The closing musical passage is unparalleled in its delivery. It takes the listener on a musical journey "all the way down the Telegraph Road." Perfection personified.

Bibliographic Reference:

Telegraph Road exist in reality near Detroit. In an interview on RockLine, a "rock radio network" call-in show, broadcast live on May 10, 1993, Mark Knopfler said, while on tour, he,..."in fact, was driving down that road, and I was reading a book at the time, called THE GROWTH OF THE SOIL [by Knud Hamsun, Norway] and I just put the two together. I was driving down this Telegraph Road....and it just went on and on and on forever, it's like what they call linear development. And I just started to think, I wondered how that road must have been when it started, what it must have first been. And then really that's how it all came about yeah, I just put that book together and the place where I was, I was actually sitting in the front of the tour bus, at the time."

Writen by SEP- Song Explanation Project

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