Fang Bian on "Telegraph Road" by Dire Straits

Dr. Fang Bian founded HiFiMAN in 2006, which has become one of the leading manufacturers of audiophile headphones and portable audio products. Here he picks a Song from his Soundtrack.

In the audio industry, we are constantly listening to music so there are many songs that have special memories for me.

One in particular though stands out and that is "Telegraph Road" by the British rock band Dire Straits and written by Mark Knopfler.

"Telegraph Road" first appeared on their 1982 album Love over Gold so it is nearly as old as me! Knopfler's guitar work and vocals are amazing. I once read that because Telegraph Road is over fourteen minutes long most radio stations wouldn't play it. Yet despite that, it has become one of their most popular songs.

The background of the song and how it was written is quite interesting. Knopfler was riding on a bus in the Detroit area in the early 80s. He noticed this one stretch of road created by development which seemed to go on forever. In the latter verses, the lyrics focus on one man's personal struggle with unemployment after the city built around the Telegraph Road became uninhabited and barren, just as it began. This fascinated him.

For me, I first heard "Telegraph Road" in 1996 when I was in college. I was working hard for my bachelor's degree and Master degree entrance test. At the time, a young man like a blank sheet of paper, I had little idea of what I wanted to do with my life. One could say those were my earliest days in audio, though I was only a hobbyist and music lover then. I was just starting to play with my earphones on my Sony Walkman WM-FX445 and developing an interest in portable audio, though at the time I had no idea what that interest would ultimately become.

Anyway, the song. "Telegraph Road" moved me then and still does today. I liked it immediately and was taken at first by the melody, which is beautiful, and of course Knopfler's marvelous guitar solo (Still one of the best I've heard to this day). Of course, then I was then hooked by the song's theme, lyrics and meaning. The first half of the song is about hard work, building a new world and opportunity. The last half is about the inevitable downturn and the complaint of unemployment.

Why did that relate to me? Well the first half anyway relates to hard work and opportunity. HiFiMAN likes to create new and unique ideas such as planar headphones and high-res players, and we always work hard on everything we do to make it real. "Telegraph Road" has been both an enjoyable song as well as an inspiration to me and to this day, remains a special song from my life. –Fang Bian