Dire Straits – 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
If we want to tell the meaning of the trip in the 80s, we can start from Dire Straits. Dire Straits formed in the late 1970s, and released two phenomenal albums (Dire Straits and Communiqué), plenty of pure rock and absolutely outstanding lyrics: singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler graduated in English literature and was also a teacher and journalist, and, before becoming famous, received three honorary doctorates for the poetics of his lyrics.
He is nicknamed “the quiet man of rock”, definitely a basic title for a genius of music, who at a more mature age gives himself the luxury and honor not only of duets with Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, but also the pleasure of curating the artistic production of some works still by Dylan and then by Tina Turner, Willy DeVille and Randy Newman.
As mentioned, Dire Straits (strong economic difficulties is a pressing theme that unites boys with many peers) were born in the late 70s, but they found their affirmation in the 80s, keeping the bar firmly on pure rock.
This is how three milestones in music history saw the light: the giant Making Movies (1980 – gold or platinum virtually everywhere, during this the recording David Knopfler left the band), an encyclopaedic album of rock as Love Over Gold (1982 – another gold and platinum record raid) and the definitive Brothers in Arms (1985).
This last album can be summarized in this way: with 30 million copies sold it emptied the warehouses of gold and platinum records. It also became one of the first albums printed on CD, and was the best-selling album ever in the 80s in the United Kingdom. Just to be complete, during 1984 Dire Straits also released a nice double live album: Alchemy, of course another fantastic success.
Let’s go back to September 20, 1982, when Love Over Gold was released. Side A is occupied by two masterpieces: Telegraph Road (fourteen minutes and thirty seconds although some claim that the exact number of seconds is fifteen), which we are about to talk about, and Private Investigations, over six minutes of acoustic emotions divided in three sections with different protagonists (piano and classical guitar; bass and electric guitar; classical guitar and marimba. And to close the song, noises of footsteps, a tinkling coin and a broken glass, which mark conceived “on the basis of something he had read about Marlowe”.
Side B contains Industrial Disease (a harsh attack on consumerism and capitalism), Love Over Gold (rock music with jazz inflections, a romantic thought for a woman currently absent), It Never Rains (invective as a betrayed lover, towards a cynical woman). It must be said that probably, the last two pieces and Romeo and Juliet (on the album Making Movies) form a painful triptych inspired by the end of Mark Knopfler’s romantic relationship with singer Holly Beth Vincent.
But we come to Telegraph Road: over 14 minutes without any hurry to tell the myth of the road, colonization and growth, but also the crisis of industrial society, expulsion from the world of work and escape with one’s love as a last rebellion. It is an ocean of sensations, described through the labor of a life spent between collective dreams and personal or familiar introspectives, proper to a contemporary society known to all of us.
The genesis of the song takes place with Mark as a young traveler on a Michigan bus along U.S. Route 24, called “The Telegraph Road”, focused on enjoying the sensations of the journey and reading The Fruits of the Land by the Norwegian Knut Hamsun, a novel on the distrust of modernity and the progressive departure of man from nature. Mark Knopfler joined the two suggestions, transforming them into these great lyrics.
Dire Straits on Wikipedia