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Desolation Row Lyrics

from No Direction Home: The Soundtrack (The Bootleg Series Vol. 7)

"Desolation Row" is track #7 on the album No Direction Home: The Soundtrack (The Bootleg Series Vol. 7). It was written by Bob Dylan.
"Desolation Row" is track #7 on the album No Direction Home: The Soundtrack (The Bootleg Series Vol. 7). It was written by Bob Dylan.

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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 into her back pockets
Bette Davis style

And in comes Romeo, hes moaning
"You belong to me I believe"
And someone turns and says to him
"My friend you'd better leave"

And the only sound thats 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 fortunetelling lady
Has even taken all her things inside

All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everyone is makin' love
Or else expecting rain

And the good Samaritan, hes dressing
Hes getting ready for the show
Hes going to the carnival tonight
On desolation row

Ophelia, shes 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 is her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness

And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noahs 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

Now he looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed his cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet

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
Locked inside of his leather cup
But all his sexless patients
Theyre trying to blow it up

Now his nurse, some local loser
Shes in charge of the cyanide hole
She also keeps the cards that read
"Have mercy on his soul"

They all play on the penny whistle
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From desolation row

Across the street theyve nailed the curtains
Theyre getting ready for the feast
The phantom of the opera
In a perfect image of a priest

Theyre spoon feeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then theyll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words

And the phantom shouts to skinny girls
"Get outta here if you dont know
Casanova he's 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 no one is escaping
To desolation row

Praise be to Neros Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybodys shouting
"Which side are you on?"

And Ezra Pound and T.S. Elliott
Fighting in the captains tower
While Calypso's 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 door knob 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, theyre quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name

Right now I cannot read too well
Dont send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them
From desolation row

Songwriters
Bob Dylan

Published by
SPECIAL RIDER MUSIC

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