Desolation Row, Bob Dylan, from the album MTV Unplugged, 2013.
This version is easier to understand than the one I put in the last post. I think I first heard this in the late 60’s. Where were you in the late 60’s? There was an old joke to the effect that if you could remember the 60’s you weren’t really there. Ha! Wrong on both counts, but Dylan sure got his lyrics right, didn’t he? Prescience comes to mind … anyway, stay with me, I promise this is going somewhere …
“Desolation Row” (Lyrics from Album “Highway 61 Revisited” 1965)
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
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 enoughFrom 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
“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 door knob broke
When you asked me how I was doing
Or 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.
And the “Free Love” self indulgent 60’s gave way to the “exploiting the breakout” to destroy the moral order. “Flashback”! 1972 … Walking through the Winnipeg Airport in my dress greens (always full uniform in those days when flying CFATC Airlines). Except that time I think I and a few others were flying home on leave for Christmas using travel warrants on Air Canada. No matter, we were greeted at the gate by a group of lovely university age children screaming and spitting at us and chanting “Baby Killers” , might have been 20 or 30 of them and security was very much not in evidence, I guess the authorities perhaps shared the emotions of the children.
We ignored them completely, which I suppose pissed them off even more and proceeded to our next gate and boarded without incident. I suppose they really didn’t feel courageous enough to get physical ’cause they always stayed about 50 feet away. Nobody commented on it and nothing was ever mentioned later. Just a bunch of hippie wannabe’s with nowhere else to be with Christmas coming on, and I suppose they all went off later to wherever those kinda folks go to smoke their dope and screw their girlfriends and … whatever. Never thought too much about it at the time although the incident has stayed with me ever since.
“All Along The Watchtower”
All Along The Watchtower, Bob Dylan, from the album “John Wesley Harding”, 1967.
“There’s too much confusion”, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”No reason to get excited”, the thief he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”.All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.
Segue into: …lots of coverage, on the channels I frequent, of The National Right To Life week and the big march in Washington in the middle of the blizzard (U.S. only, Canadians only march of you threaten to cut off their welfare and free medical shit, Oh I know there are a few but most Canucks belong to the chestless class). Why no Lame Stream Media coverage of such a huge event?
I guess it’s just such a huge elephant in the room that they can’t bear/dare to draw attention to it … there are actually folks – thousands of them – who don’t think it is just A-OK to kill inconvenient kids. Sure looks a like killing babies to me. Pretty damned clear. No doubt about it.
The same kinda folks who thought it was cool to scream and chant at me and my fellows back in 72 graduated, and went on to high places in government and, just think about this for a moment: They turned killing babies into Big Business, yup, pretty weird, right – get rid of the little suckers that are complicating our special lives and while we are at it lets just sell the parts for a profit. You just can’t make this shit up.
While thinking about all that I recently read an online record of “the greatest pro-life speech ever given,” (which) was delivered by Richard John Neuhaus at the close of the 2008 convention of the National Right to Life Committee. Fr. Neuhaus was the founder and editor in chief of “First Things”. He died in 2009, and the world is a much poorer place for that.
Anyway, way down at the start of the 8th paragraph a line jumped up and smacked me between the eyes: “The culture of death is an idea before it is a deed. I expect many of us here, perhaps most of us here, can remember when we were first encountered by the idea”.
It hit me like a ton of bricks – I remember the exact moment the “culture of death” became reality for me. I heard about the Roe vs Wade decision while on deployment in 1973, rough weather in the Baltic (really shitty place to be at sea most of the time) crouched on the VDS deck, under the aft flight deck overhang, periodically watching the back of Niagara falls as a sea sluiced off the flight deck into the VDS well and back away in to the sea. Such a rush, when you are safe and dry (mostly) with good food and lots of like minded mates all around you.
You can get a pretty good idea of what it was like by checking out this little video here. I can absolutely testify that there are NO bloody atheists out there. We all believe – STRONGLY.
Enough for tonight, Cheers
Joe, Sleep safe and secure tonight, Your NAVY is awake. and
“May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you.
Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you.
And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.”