Desolation Row (Bob Dylan)


They're selling postcards of the hanging,
Painting the passports brown,
Beauty parlor is filled with sailors,
The circus is in town.
In walks 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,
"Takes one to know one," she smiles,
Puts her hands in her back pockets,
Bette Davis style.
And in walks Romeo, he's moaning,
"You belong to me I believe,"
And someone says, "You're in the wrong place, my friend,
You better leave."
The only sound that you can hear,
After the ambulances go,
Is Cinderella sweeping up on,
Desolation Row.

Now the moon is almost hidden,
Stars are beginning to hide,
The fortune-telling lady,
Already taken all her things inside.
All except for Cain and Abel,
The hunchback of Notre Dame,
Everybody is making love,
Or else expecting rain.
The Good Samaritan, he's dressing,
He's getting ready for the show,
He's going down 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.
Though her gaze is fixed upon,
Noah's great rainbow,
She spends her time peeking into,
Desolation Row.

Now Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood,
With his memories in a trunk,
Passed this way an hour ago,
With his friend, a jealous monk.
Oh he looked so immaculately frightful,
As he bummed a cigarette,
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes,
And reciting the alphabet.
Now you wouldn't 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,
All his sexless patients,
They're all trying to blow it up.
And 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 whistle,
You can hear them blow,
If you lean your head out far enough on,
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 spoonfeeding 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,
Go and round up everyone,
That knows more than they do.
Take them to the factory,
Where the heart attack machine,
Is strapped across their shoulders,
And then the kerosene.
Brought down from the castles,
By insurance men who go,
Make sure nobody's escaping to,
Desolation Row.

Ah praise be to Nero's Neptune,
The Titanic sails at dawn,
And everybody's shouting,
"Which side are you on?"
Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot,
They're 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 noone has to think too much about,
Desolation Row.

Yes, I received your letter yesterday,
About the time the door knob broke,
When you asked 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.