"Janitor of Lunacy" was composed as a tribute to her friend Brian Jones.
The back and front covers feature stills from the film La cicatrice interieure by Philippe Garrel, which starred Nico, Garrel and her son Ari Boulogne. A few of the songs from the album were included on the soundtrack of the film.
Friends of Nico played "Mütterlein", a song from the album, at Nico's funeral in Berlin in July 1988.
In 2007, industrial music band Throbbing Gristle went into the studio to record a reinterpretation of Desertshore for a later release. The studio session was made open to the public and the entirety of the 3-day, 12-hour-long session was recorded, given a limited press, and released as The Desertshore Installation. The plan had been to edit these three days of recordings and craft the finished album from that material, but the group were not satisfied with the sessions and decided to re-record the album. Peter Christopherson continued working on the album in Bangkok with Danny Hyde until his passing in November 2010. Hyde passed the work they had done to remaining Throbbing Gristle members Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti to complete, which they have accomplished with the help of several guest vocalists, including Marc Almond, Sasha Grey, Blixa Bargeld and Antony Hegarty. The album, called Desertshore/The Final Report, was released on November 26, 2012, under the name X-TG.
The album was debuted live at AV Festival on March 17, 2012, performed by Carter and Tutti. It was accompanied by a screening of Philippe Garrel’s La cicatrice intérieure, "for which Desertshore was soundtrack and inspiration".