Lyrics: 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'd 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
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 Now he looked so immaculately frightful as he bummed a cigarette And he when 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 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 in a perfect image of a priest They are 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"
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 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 ...