"Telegraph Road" as written by and Mark Knopfler....
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 ploughed up the ground by the cold lake shore
And the other travellers 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 load
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've 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

Well, I'd sooner forget, but I remember those nights
Yeah, life was just a bet on a race between the lights
You had your hand on my shoulder, you had your hand in my hair
Now you act a little colder like you don't seem to care

But just 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
'Cause I've run every red light on memory lane
I've seen desperation explode into flames
And I don't wanna see it again

From all of these signs saying "sorry but we're closed"
All the way down the Telegraph Road


Lyrics submitted by Dasch, edited by adrolter

"Telegraph Road" as written by Mark Knopfler

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Telegraph Road song meanings
Add your thoughts

50 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +6
    General CommentConsidering current news on the Detroit Bankruptcy, just how brilliant and visionary does one have to be to write this song 30+ years ago????
    tmanon July 19, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General CommentOn the Love Over Gold album the version is over 14 minutes long. Truely great song mind.
    gnome101on October 06, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI particularly like this section:

    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

    It's absolutely amazing how they wrapped a civil development with such lyrics and melody.
    bugmenoton November 23, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is an epic song... there's an 11 minute version on their "Money For Nothing" album... it's a beautiful song... plus it's recorded live with the piano parts. This is excellent Dire Straits musicianship with echoing guitars, haunting vocals, and, of course, the rest of the band at the top of their game.

    Simply brilliant.
    Prime_Knighton June 18, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt's one of my all time favorites. the whole story of civilization in 14 minutes. After u listen to this you really wish you were born in woods 500 years ago!

    "And the birds up on the wires and the telegraph poles
    They can always fly away from this rain and this cold"
    a dire straits master piece
    roddioson April 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIf I remember right, this song came out about 1982. In my area (the Midwestern US) we had up to 15% unemployment, high inflation and interest rates. The relative price of oil was soaring and gold was up to 800+ dollars an ounce. The economy was in a period of drastic change, in the past we had a solid industrial / manufacturing based economy but that was dieing rapidly to dead in 1982. The information / internet based economy had not even been conceived of yet by most people in 1982 so it didn't seem like the future was too bright for anything. I had a job literally digging holes and doing other dirty work for minimum wage and was so lucky to have that. Does anyone know if there is an actual town / telegraph road that inspired this song? Sounds like it could have been any town in the Midwestern US (rust belt) back then. Hearing this song haunts me... takes me back to those days. The sky was always grey and people were unemployed.
    tmanon August 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn my opinion, this song could be used to describe one, or maybe all of three things.

    The first is the obvious: the "Telegraph Road" as it is called. Starts off a little no-where in the woods, develops more and more into a little industrial town, becomes a large, populated area, then after a while gets entirely abandoned, shut down, and just as deserted as it was beforehand.

    The second theory that sprang to my mind upon pondering the lyrics a bit more deeply was that it could be a description of a relationship, using the "Telegraph Road" as a metaphor. First, there's nothing. The two in the relationship no not of each other. Then along they come, unpack their stuff, and eventually build a relationship and a home for themselves. They are at the peak of the relationship at the same point that there is heavy traffic on the road. Then, things turn out wrong, problems spring, matters go astray, and the relationship gets abandoned. All the things that they used to do are no longer, indicating the "Sorry, We're Closed" signs. The very last verse seems to add to my theory of it being about a relationship.

    My third and final theory is that the song explains the course of a human being's life. Once again, starting with nothing but a horny girl and her erect husband. We then find a small baby, who makes himself comfortable in his environment. He keeps growing, expanding his knowledge, and then reaches the peak of his life. Shortly afterwards, things start going downhill, eventually leading to him deserting his life, or more bluntly, dying. Thus concludes the song.

    And in case you didn't notice, the name of this website is "Song Meanings", not "Post bullshit". I'm sick of the "0|\/|6z53rzZ 7|-|!5 $0|\|6 R0xx34s |\/|Y S0xX3rs" bullshit. Aren't we supposed to be discussing what the song means to us? Not childish, fool-written asscrap with no content.
    fledgehogon August 19, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSure enough tman, this isn't just about a town growing up and so on, it's definitely a warning about the draining of a city and acountry when jobs disappear thick'n'fast:
    "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"

    The final lines "I've seen desperation explode into flames/and I don't wanna see it again" bring the point home, don't they? I feel it evokes a line both to the unrest in London at the time and the rise of the nazis in Germany - they might never have come to power if the economy hadn't been broken first by the inflation in the twneties and then by massive iunemplyment less than ten years later. When the piano and bass return the opening on the very last word of the lyrics, it sounds like a toll of doom.
    tinderboxon August 20, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFledgehog is right - all his theories are right, simple explanation - everything has its begining, its peak, and then everything fades. It is just nature of the things, of everything. Starting from ancient civilizations, through life of a human being, ending with love and relationships. Just as the city appears and grows "telegraph road", economic boom; so appeared the love - "i remember those times...", everything reaches its peaks - "six lines of traffic", "hand in my hair", then everything dimishes and vanishes - "no work to be found", "you seem a little colder", this song is about life and existence of everything, based on a "lifestory" of a city, and guy living in it. And the end - "they" just run away to start something new... guess how it'll end? I think that there's no hope...

    And my favorite part is
    "You know I’d sooner forget but I remember those nights
    When life was just a bet on a race between the lights
    "

    excuse me my english - I'm polish
    alanzon May 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI didn't count the words, but (excluding one or two word lines, even on Industrial Disease) this song has less lines than Industrial Disease, and it's almost three times the length. Industrial Disease is COMPACT. 48 lines, 5 verses, 5:50.
    42 lines, 5 verses (shorter verses in two cases!), 14:18
    sambennallickon September 06, 2006   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain