Desolation Row: Which Lyrics Hit Note of Global Gloom?

LONDON ~ The global economic downturn has inspired one British property boss to cite Bob Dylan to describe the market turmoil – and triggered a debate about other songs evoking the credit crunch crisis.

Tim Wheeler of London-based Brixton Estates raised eyebrows by using apocalyptic lyrics from Dylan’s 1967 classic All Along the Watchtower in his latest quarterly results this week.

“There must be some way out of here/said the joker to the thief/There’s too much confusion/I can’t get no relief,” runs the opening line of the song, cited in the more usually dusty-dry accounting update.

“The apocalyptic opening lines seem to capture the beleaguered mindset of the UK commercial real estate market,” wrote Wheeler, who reinforced the point by putting a picture of the four horses of the Apocalypse on the front cover.

The unorthodox corporate report, which featured widely in British papers Wednesday, triggered a flurry of online suggestions for other songs which could be used to describe the fallout from the global credit crunch.

Dylan’s Desolation Row was inevitably among them, but others on the Daily Telegraph website ranged from the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter to After the Goldrush by Neil Young and the Smiths’ Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.

Continuing the apocalyptic theme, a Guardian reader suggested The End Of The World As We Know It by REM, while others suggested Australian heavy metal veterans AC/DC’s Highway to Hell.

Back in Britain there was clear political spin in some suggestions: Things Can Only Get Better by D:Ream – famously used as former premier Tony Blair’s theme tune when he swept to power in 1997, was one.

Another suggestion, Gordon is a Moron by Jilted John, which stormed the British charts in 1978, took a pointed dig at Blair’s successor in 10 Downing Street, Gordon Brown.

The property boss who triggered the water-cooler debate was in reflective mood, despite his accounts showing that Brixton Estates had slumped from a £192-million (US$357-million) profit last year to a loss of £236.7 million this year.

“The market may be in apocalyptic mood but there is some way out of here,” he wrote, hopefully.

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