Desolation Row

Album: Watchmen: Music From the Motion Picture (2009)
Charted: 52


  • This is a cover of a Bob Dylan song, which was originally included on the singer-songwriter's 1965 Highway 61 Revisited album.
  • My Chemical Romance covered this song for the soundtrack of the 2009 Zack Snyder movie Watchmen. Frontman Gerard Way told MTV News that through their version of this song, the band discovered a new recording tactic: Stop thinking and just get busy rocking. He explained: "From working on 'Desolation Row' ... I think it was very natural. We just kind of did stuff and the song was there. There was no over-thinking."
  • Way told the story of the MCR's cover of this song on Facebook: "Firstly, I'd like to point out that we have never recorded a song for a film. We have allowed a couple of our songs to be used in trailers or end-credits, but since we are usually pretty busy with either recording or touring there has never been time to do something like this before, and even this was kind of tight, as we started it before even finishing our last tour. There have been other offers to do this kind of thing, and usually the timing always made it impossible, but more often than not the project never seemed to fit the band, and we have always passed. But when the chance came to do a cover of one of my favorite artists, Bob Dylan, for a film version of my favorite work of fiction of all time we had to jump at the chance.

    Sometimes an interviewer will ask a musician "What's the one record or musical experience, like a concert, that made you want to make music?". Usually people will mention some sort of 7 inch record or a show they saw in a basement that really changed their lives, got them into punk rock, and shaped the way they looked at the world. For me it was Watchmen. At 15 years old, just as I was discovering the Misfits Walk Among Us I was reading the first chapter of the graphic novel. It is the one thing I can pinpoint that shaped my views and aesthetics, even down to the way I dressed at the time, not that I walked the hallways in a stained brown trench coat, but I definitely chose more antisocial articles of clothing, like an army jacket, picked up after watching Taxi Driver for the twentieth time, a film I was lead to by the comic. So I would definitely say it's pretty important to me and the band.

    The talks started about the same time as Projekt Revolution, and I remember getting on the phone with Zack, who was as excited as I was, somewhere in the middle of the desert as out bus rolled to the next venue. We talked about the comic and he asked what I felt the approach to the song should be, which was to take a cue from Jim Carroll, who is not only the author of The Basketball Diaries but also a musician, and a pretty great one at that. On his album, Catholic Boy, he has a song called "People Who Died", which I love, as does Frank (Iero, guitarist), as he always includes it in our "Front Of House Mixes" you would hear during set-change during one of our concerts. Zack responded to this approach right away, as he actually used that song to end his remake of Dawn Of The Dead, which I had totally forgotten about, even though the whole band saw it on opening night and loved it. So the tone was decided upon and then came the length, which initially Zack wanted to be the full version of Dylan's.

    Now, I would consider myself a pretty big Dylan fan, especially after having worked with Scott Allie on my comic, as he really got me into him even more than I was before. And while I didn't want to alter the song at all, I found that I had to, due to the new approach and the aggressive nature of the cover. There was simply no way I felt you could make it feel like a trashy punk song and play it for ten minutes...I think it's impossible to keep that kind of energy up without either burning out or boring yourself, as anyone will note that most Ramones songs don't exceed three minutes, and there's a reason for that. Down-strummed til your wrist breaks! Fast and f---ing hard!

    So back at a hotel in Arizona I sat in a hotel and did a rough arrangement, which clocked in at around 2:40, and I paid careful attention to the lyrics, while losing some of my favorite verses I managed to keep the ones I felt were represented by Alan Moore in the comic. We then started playing the song at sound check, and had so much fun doing it that we decided to play it live, to get warmed up for the recording.

    We did some initial tracking in Nashville and then just lived with it for a while. When crunch time came, and after seeing some of the film, I became increasingly unhappy with my vocal performance, and we felt we could get more out of the guitars. So we asked our friend Rich Costey to help us finish the track and get some new sounds, which he did, in NYC at Electric Ladyland, with the addition of some sweet old Marshall Plexi's, to get a kind of Sex Pistols tone, and we had a blast. And that's pretty much the story of the song."

Comments: 12

  • Renee from Jonesville VaI freaking love this song! i really dont care for bob dylans version, no offence to anyone but im a head banger type of girl so this got me rocking!
  • Emile from Carlsbad, CaIt's not supposed to be upbeat it is about death and racism.
  • Joe from Union, KyGag me with a pitchfork. This is worse than any of Dave Matthew's covers he destroyed.
  • Rae from Buxton, NcBen, leave mcr alone just because you have nothing better to do. This is a good song no matter what anyone says
  • M from Asdfjkl;, Ilwell Ben your opinion of MCR is horrible if you want to go bash someone let it be yourself because My Chemical Romance is and always will be the best band ever!
  • Vicky from Chesapeake, Vathe bob dylan version is horrible no offense to anyone....mcrs is much faster and upbeat to me , like it a lot!
  • Logan from Indianapolis, Inlol i love this version~ jst cuzz its mcr~!!!
  • Indigo from Adelaide, Australiathe bob dylan one is obviously going to be better, as it was the original. this is just a cover, and i think it is really good, it could have been done a lot worse. nice videoclip as well.
  • Billy from Perris, CaAww.. does the loud music hurt your bloody ears? If you don't like MCR, don't comment and rate their songs, nitwit. If you cannot enjoy this song, your not paying attention to the raw energy that it brings. Find a new hobby.
  • Ben from Lexington, VaThis cover is awful. It has such a generic sound and it does not do the original genious song by Bob Dylan justice. Then again I was not expecting anything good to come from My Chemical Romance they have always been awful and always will. But then again thats just my opinion.
  • Rose from Dumfries, United Kingdomthis would be an awesome song on it's own but it doesn't really do the lyrics justice. Great song though. LoVe U mCr!!!!!!!
  • Brian from Alluhrst, Nji was afraid that this was gonna kill the original bob dylan song but i was plesantly suprised this is a really good song
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