Desolation Row

Bob Dylan Buy

About Desolation Row

"Desolation Row" is a 1965 song written and sung by Bob Dylan. It was recorded on August 4, 1965, and released as the closing track of Dylan's sixth studio album, Highway 61 Revisited. It has been noted for its length (11:21) and surreal lyrics in which Dylan weaves characters from history, fiction, the Bible and his own invention into a series of vignettes that suggest entropy and urban chaos. "Desolation Row" is often ranked as one of Dylan's greatest compositions.


Year:
1995
273 Views
Playlists:
#2

 Watch: New Singing Lesson Videos Can Make Anyone A Great Singer

They're selling postcards of the hanging
They're painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They've got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad, they're restless
They need somewhere to go
As lady and I look out tonight, from Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
"It takes one to know one," she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets, Bette Davis-style
And in comes Romeo, he's moaning
"You Belong to me, I believe"
And someone says, "You're in the wrong place
My friend, you better leave"
And the only sound that's left after the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up on Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel and the hunchback of Notre Dame

Everybody is making love or else expecting rain
And the good Samaritan, he's dressing
He's getting ready for the show
He's going to the carnival tonight on Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday she already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic, she wears an iron vest
Her profession's her religion, her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon Noah's great rainbow
She spends her time peeking into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago with his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful as he bummed a cigarette
As he went off sniffing drainpipes and reciting the alphabet

Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin on Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients, they're trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She's in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
"Have mercy on his soul"
They all play on the penny whistles, you can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough from Desolation Row

Across the street they've nailed the curtains
They're getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera, a perfect image of a priest
They're spoon-feeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they'll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom's shouting to skinny girls
"Get outta here if you don't know
Casanova is just being punished for going to Desolation Row"

Now at midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders and then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles by insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping to Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero's Neptune, the Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody's shouting, "Which side are you on?"
And Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot fighting in the captain's tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much about Desolation row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
About the time the doorknob broke
When you asked me how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they're quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now, I can't read too good
Don't send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them from Desolation Row

 Watch: New Singing Lesson Videos Can Make Anyone A Great Singer


Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan ( /ˈdɪlən/; born Robert Allen Zimmerman; May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, poet and artist. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan's early songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'", became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving his initial base in the culture of folk music behind, Dylan's six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone" has been described as radically altering the parameters of popular music in … more »

FAVORITE (17 fans)


Written by: Bob Dylan

Lyrics © AUDIAM, INC, Songtrust Ave

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

Discuss the Desolation Row Lyrics with the community:

Citation

Use the citation below to add these lyrics to your bibliography:

Style:MLAChicagoAPA

"Desolation Row Lyrics." Lyrics.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 5 Jun 2020. <https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/742443/Bob+Dylan>.

Missing lyrics by Bob Dylan?

Know any other songs by Bob Dylan? Don't keep it to yourself!

Watch the song video

Desolation Row

1M
8,021     227

Free, no signup required:

Add to Chrome

Get instant explanation for any lyrics that hits you anywhere on the web!

Free, no signup required:

Add to Firefox

Get instant explanation for any acronym or abbreviation that hits you anywhere on the web!

Don't miss Bob Dylan's

Upcoming Events

»
Bob Dylan tracks

On Radio Right Now

Loading...

Powered by OnRad.io


Think you know music? Test your MusicIQ here!

Movies in which is played

Desolation Row

»