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Desolation Row

Highway 61 Revisited

folk folk rock 60s singer-songwriter rock

"Desolation Row" is the closing track of Bob Dylan's sixth studio album, Highway 61 Revisited. It is noted for its length (11:21) and surreal lyrics. It was recorded on August 4, 1965, in Columbia's Studio A in New York City. The two takes spliced for the album were the second and third time Dylan had sung the song. Charlie McCoy played acoustic guitar for the record, making it the album's only track not to feature an electric guitar. An alternate Read more on Last.fm.

Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, United States) is an American musician, poet and artist whose position in popular culture is unique. Dylan started his musical odyssey in 1959 when he began playing in Dinkytown, Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota. Shortly after starting to play he changed his stage name to Bob Dylan, after being influenced by the poetry of Dylan Thomas before legally changing his name in 1962. Much of his best known work is from the 1960s, when he became an informal documentarian and reluctant figurehead of American unrest, promoted by Joan Baez. Some of his songs, such as Blowin' in the Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin', became anthems of the anti-war and civil rights movements, with Joan Baez and Dylan singing together at the March on Washington in 1963. However he later became disenchanted with the civil liberty protest scene, feeling that he had been used by them. His album Bringing It All Back Home marked a move away from the folk scene and a move towards rock and roll and Dylan began to consciously distance himself from his early association with civil rights. He also started to become irritated when being interviewed, often given facetious or irreverent answers to questions. Bringing It All Back Home was a controversial album as it the first on which he played electric guitar. This was seen by some of his fans as a betrayal of this folk roots, with some saying that it obscured his meaningful and poetic lyrics. The second half of the 1960s was marked by a string of well received releases, with his song Like a Rolling Stone, released in July of 1965, later being named The Greatest Song of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2004, placing #1 in a list of 500 titles. It also marked the formation of Dylan's backing band The Hawks (who would later call themselves simply The Band). Dylan embarked on a world tour of Australia and Europe in 1966, during which he seemed to be under a lot of strain and pressure by both his fans, the music press and his own promoters. Dylan himself admitted that he began taking drugs seriously whilst on this tour, and found it immensely hard work. On returning to New York he crashed his motorbike, sustaining serious injuries in the process, and went into a period of withdrawal while he recuperated. During the late 1960s, Dylan again changed stylistic tradition, moving away from the psychedelic culture of the time. It was then that he recorded All Along the Watchtower, perhaps more famously recorded by Jimi Hendrix. The 1970s were a period during which Dylan was more sporadic in his output, releasing some poorly received LPs. He rarely appeared in person until 1973, when he began touring again with his backing band The Band. He also wrote one of his most extensively covered songs, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, as well as what is now recognised as one of his best albums Blood On The Tracks. Towards the end of the 1970s, Dylan discovered God, and released some albums of gospel music. He started to talk to the crowd about his faith during his performances, and wouldn't play any of his early work, which alienated some of his previous fans. Dylan today still remains an influential and popular artist; despite a period of little note between 1970-2000, his 2006 album Modern Times reached the US chart at #1, as did his 2009 album Together Through Life, in the US, Britain, France and several other countries. His 2012 album Tempest was also critically acclaimed. Since 1988, Dylan has been on the so-called Never Ending Tour, during which his performanes have provoked controversy, with some critics claiming that his lyrics have become incomprehensible, an experience which is not helped by his tendency to change his set-list and vocals almost every performance. Bob Dylan's strong influence over the past few years is becoming even more prominent amongst a growing group of younger emerging artists such as George Ellias and Devendra Banhart. Dylan's early lyrics incorporated politics, social commentary, philosophy and literary influences, defying existing pop music conventions and appealing widely to the counterculture of the time. While expanding and personalizing musical styles, Dylan has shown steadfast devotion to traditions of American song, from folk and country/blues to rock and roll and rockabilly, to Gaelic balladry, even jazz, swing and Broadway. Dylan performs with the guitar, keyboard and harmonica. Backed by a changing lineup of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late 1980s. He has also recently performed alongside other iconic artists, such as Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty and Eric Clapton. Although his contributions as a performer and recording artist have been central to his career, his songwriting is generally held as his highest accomplishment. Nobel Prize for Literature (2016) - On October 13, 2016, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. The prestigious award has been given annually since 1901 and previous Nobel Laureates for Literature include Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett. Here is the speech written by Dylan, although unable to attend: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/10/arts/bob-dylan-nobel-prize-acceptance-speech.html?_r=0 Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.


Desolation Row
Bob Dylan
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 tightrope 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 pocket 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's 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 22nd birthday She already is an old maid To her, death is quite romantic She wears an ironed 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 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 Inside of a leather cup But all his sexless patients They are 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 whistle, 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 shouting to skinny girls "Get out of 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 And they bring them to the factory Where their 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. Elliot 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 mentioned Yes, I know them, they are 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




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