"Desperados Under The Eaves" as written by and Warren Zevon....
I was sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel
I was staring in my empty coffee cup
I was thinking that the gypsy wasn't lyin'
All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles
I'm gonna drink 'em up

And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill

Don't the sun look angry through the trees
Don't the trees look like crucified thieves
Don't you feel like Desperados under the eaves
Heaven help the one who leaves

Still waking up in the mornings with shaking hands
And I'm trying to find a girl who understands me
But except in dreams you're never really free
Don't the sun look angry at me

I was sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel
I was listening to the air conditioner hum
It went mmm...
Look away
(Look away down Gower Avenue, look away)


Lyrics submitted by pakalolo

"Desperados Under the Eaves" as written by Warren Zevon

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Desperados Under The Eaves song meanings
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29 Comments

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  • +4
    My InterpretationThe overall tone feels like it's about recovery from alcoholism - "...empty coffee cup", "Still wake up with shaking hands" allude to that; What ties the verses together is the sense of guilt and disorientation , and that there's a higher power judging him ("...the sun look angry at me")- that's sort of where 12 step programs take you.

    I wonder if "the gypsy wasn't lyin'" is a reference to a rehab counselor, because a gypsy is very dubious, as is often the case with rehab counselors who tend have personal experience with addiction. In 12-step programs, a counselor would tell you that if you're an alcoholic, you're gonna keep drinking compulsively ("All the salty margaritas.. gonna drink um up") unless you keep working your 12-step program for life.

    " ...sun look angry through the trees... crucified thieves, and Heaven help..." are all spiritual references. Sun represents all-powerful, always present, unassailable god/higher power; the crucified thieves are reminiscent of Jesus on the cross (per the Bible, Jesus was crucified along with two thieves) "Desperado under the eaves" seems to refer to the fact that he's sneaking away from creditors, but in the larger, poetic sense, it means guilty in the eyes of the higher power. Especially in the sense that alcoholism is often a form of escape from matters of conscience.
    So he's left listening to the AC hum, but guilty before God (angry sun), awaiting his fate as a mortal.

    "Look away down Gower Avenue" is interesting because at one end is Paramount Studios (on Melrose) which could represent fame and the world's stage, and at the other end is the towering church Hollywood Presbyterian which could represent spiritual transition (baptism or funeral)... which way is he looking?
    Keystrokeon December 19, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentNo one can read these lyrics and understand the power of this song without hearing the airconditioner turn into strings.....

    Absolutely amazing and it always brings me to tears.

    mysterri
    mysterrion June 20, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPossibly WZ's finest moment.
    SunKingon May 07, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI've heard this song my whole life and it wasn't until today that I realized the string intro is the same as the piano intro of Frank and Jesse James. I suppose he was feeling a bit like an outlaw as he sat in that hotel room contemplating the alternatives to a traditional front desk check out.
    Kouklaon March 05, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt's my opinion that anyone that has the time to actually sit and listen to an air conditioner hum is probably in over their head in one way or another with something.
    elwoood13on June 15, 2012   Link
  • +2
    Song ComparisonHas anyone else noticed Zevon's nod to Bob Dylan in "Desperadoes"? Following the the second verse of Dylan's "It takes a lot to laugh, It takes a train to cry" from Highway 61 Revisited. By chance I heard it on the radio this morning, and I was struck by the wording. We know that Warren admired Dylan immensely. I don't think the echoes in "Desperadoes" were accidental, especially the first two lines here.

    I also wonder if Warren's referring to the Double E in "Poor, poor, pitiful me" was also a nod to Dylan.

    Don't the moon look good, mama,
    Shinin' through the trees?
    Don't the brakeman look good, mama,
    Flagging down the "Double E"?
    Don't the sun look good
    Goin' down over the sea?
    Don't my gal look fine
    When she's comin' after me?

    Read more at songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858502906/
    doitrighton June 20, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNo one can read these lyrics and understand the power of this song without hearing the airconditioner turn into strings.....

    Absolutely amazing and it always brings me to tears.

    mysterri
    mysterrion June 20, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNo one can read these lyrics and understand the power of this song without hearing the airconditioner turn into strings.....

    Absolutely amazing and it always brings me to tears.

    mysterri
    mysterrion June 20, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSeems to be about the nadir of existence.
    Blending oneself into the background.

    As Joyce wrote, "His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world"
    egoron November 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentyes, alcoholism, but also an acceptance of the basics of human nature (this hotel will be standing until i pay my bill) and a kind of miltonesque looking forward in listening to the air conditioner hum. his time is running low and he still has a lot to say.
    scumbagstyleon February 07, 2007   Link

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