SONGS FROM A ROOM

April 1969




Click on the song title to see the lyrics, or just scroll down.

Click on the RealAudio or WAV button next to the song
title to hear a 30 second sound clip from the official
Sony site: www.leonardcohen.com.
Copyright © 1969 Sony Music Entertainment (Canada) Inc.


1. Bird on the Wire 3:23
2. Story of Isaac 3:31
3. A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes 3:10
4. The Partisan 3:20
5. Seems So Long Ago, Nancy 3:35
6. The Old Revolution 4:42
7. The Butcher 3:11
8. You Know Who I Am 3:24
9. Lady Midnight 2:50
10. Tonight Will Be Fine 3:45


Total time 35:35. CBS 63587


Bird on the Wire

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook,
like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee.
If I, if I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you.

Like a baby, stillborn,
like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
But I swear by this song
and by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee.
I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
he said to me, "You must not ask for so much."
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
she cried to me, "Hey, why not ask for more?"

Oh like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.


Story of Isaac

The door it opened slowly,
my father he came in,
I was nine years old.
And he stood so tall above me,
his blue eyes they were shining
and his voice was very cold.
He said, "I've had a vision
and you know I'm strong and holy,
I must do what I've been told."
So he started up the mountain,
I was running, he was walking,
and his axe was made of gold.

Well, the trees they got much smaller,
the lake a lady's mirror,
we stopped to drink some wine.
Then he threw the bottle over.
Broke a minute later
and he put his hand on mine.
Thought I saw an eagle
but it might have been a vulture,
I never could decide.
Then my father built an altar,
he looked once behind his shoulder,
he knew I would not hide.

You who build these altars now
to sacrifice these children,
you must not do it anymore.
A scheme is not a vision
and you never have been tempted
by a demon or a god.
You who stand above them now,
your hatchets blunt and bloody,
you were not there before,
when I lay upon a mountain
and my father's hand was trembling
with the beauty of the word.

And if you call me brother now,
forgive me if I inquire,
"Just according to whose plan?"
When it all comes down to dust
I will kill you if I must,
I will help you if I can.
When it all comes down to dust
I will help you if I must,
I will kill you if I can.
And mercy on our uniform,
man of peace or man of war,
the peacock spreads his fan.


A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes

A bunch of lonesome and very quarrelsome heroes
were smoking out along the open road;
the night was very dark and thick between them,
each man beneath his ordinary load.
"I'd like to tell my story,"
said one of them so young and bold,
"I'd like to tell my story,
before I turn into gold."

But no one really could hear him,
the night so dark and thick and green;
well I guess that these heroes must always live there
where you and I have only been.
Put out your cigarette, my love,
you've been alone too long;
and some of us are very hungry now
to hear what it is you've done that was so wrong.

I sing this for the crickets,
I sing this for the army,
I sing this for your children
and for all who do not need me.
"I'd like to tell my story,"
said one of them so bold,
"Oh yes, I'd like to tell my story
'cause you know I feel I'm turning into gold."


The Partisan (by Anna Marly/Hy Zaret)

When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender,
this I could not do;
I took my gun and vanished.

I have changed my name so often,
I've lost my wife and children
but I have many friends,
and some of them are with me.

An old woman gave us shelter,
kept us hidden in the garret,
then the soldiers came;
she died without a whisper.

There were three of us this morning
I'm the only one this evening
but I must go on;
the frontiers are my prison.

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.

Les Allemands étaient chez moi, [The Germans were at my home]
ils me dirent, resigne-toi, [they told me to surrender]
mais je n'ai pas pu; [but I could not do]
j'ai repris mon arme. [I have retaken my weapon.]

J'ai changé cent fois de nom, [I have changed names a hundred times]
j'ai perdu femme et enfants [I have lost wife and children]
mais j'ai tant d'amis; [but I have so many friends]
j'ai la France entière. [I have entire France]

Un vieil homme dans un grenier [An old man in an attic]
pour la nuit nous a cachés, [kept us hidden for the night]
les Allemands l'ont pris; [the Germans took him]
Il est mort sans surprise. [he died without surprise.]

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.


Note: The lines in French rectified by Stephane Ehling
(French lyrics printed in the CD booklet are incorrect).


Seems So Long Ago, Nancy

It seems so long ago,
Nancy was alone,
looking at the Late Late show
through a semi-precious stone.
In the House of Honesty
her father was on trial,
in the House of Mystery
there was no one at all,
there was no one at all.

It seems so long ago,
none of us were strong;
Nancy wore green stockings
and she slept with everyone.
She never said she'd wait for us
although she was alone,
I think she fell in love for us
in nineteen sixty one,
in nineteen sixty one.

It seems so long ago,
Nancy was alone,
a forty five beside her head,
an open telephone.
We told her she was beautiful,
we told her she was free
but none of us would meet her in
the House of Mystery,
the House of Mystery.

And now you look around you,
see her everywhere,
many use her body,
many comb her hair.
In the hollow of the night
when you are cold and numb
you hear her talking freely then,
she's happy that you've come,
she's happy that you've come.


The Old Revolution

I finally broke into the prison,
I found my place in the chain.
Even damnation is poisoned with rainbows,
all the brave young men
they're waiting now to see a signal
which some killer will be lighting for pay.

Into this furnace I ask you now to venture,
you whom I cannot betray.

I fought in the old revolution
on the side of the ghost and the King.
Of course I was very young
and I thought that we were winning;
I can't pretend I still feel very much like singing
as they carry the bodies away.

Into this furnace I ask you now to venture...

Lately you've started to stutter
as though you had nothing to say.
To all of my architects let me be traitor.
Now let me say I myself gave the order
to sleep and to search and to destroy.

Into this furnace I ask you now to venture...

Yes, you who are broken by power,
you who are absent all day,
you who are kings for the sake of your children's story,
the hand of your beggar is burdened down with money,
the hand of your lover is clay.

Into this furnace I ask you now to venture...


The Butcher

I came upon a butcher,
he was slaughtering a lamb,
I accused him there
with his tortured lamb.
He said, "Listen to me, child,
I am what I am
and you, you are my only son."

Well, I found a silver needle,
I put it into my arm.
It did some good,
did some harm.
But the nights were cold
and it almost kept me warm,
how come the night is long?

I saw some flowers growing up
where that lamb fell down;
was I supposed to praise my Lord,
make some kind of joyful sound?
He said, "Listen, listen to me now,
I go round and round
and you, you are my only child."

Do not leave me now,
do not leave me now,
I'm broken down
from a recent fall.
Blood upon my body
and ice upon my soul,
lead on, my son, it is your world.


You Know Who I Am

I cannot follow you, my love,
you cannot follow me.
I am the distance you put between
all of the moments that we will be.

You know who I am,
you've stared at the sun,
well I am the one who loves
changing from nothing to one.

Sometimes I need you naked,
sometimes I need you wild,
I need you to carry my children in
and I need you to kill a child.

You know who I am...

If you should ever track me down
I will surrender there
and I will leave with you one broken man
whom I will teach you to repair.

You know who I am...

I cannot follow you, my love,
you cannot follow me.
I am the distance you put between
all of the moments that we will be.

You know who I am...


Lady Midnight

I came by myself to a very crowded place;
I was looking for someone who had lines in her face.
I found her there but she was past all concern;
I asked her to hold me, I said, "Lady, unfold me,"
but she scorned me and she told me
I was dead and I could never return.

Well, I argued all night like so many have before,
saying, "Whatever you give me, I seem to need so much more."
Then she pointed at me where I kneeled on her floor,
she said, "Don't try to use me or slyly refuse me,
just win me or lose me,
it is this that the darkness is for."

I cried, "Oh, Lady Midnight, I fear that you grow old,
the stars eat your body and the wind makes you cold."
"If we cry now," she said, "it will just be ignored."
So I walked through the morning, sweet early morning,
I could hear my lady calling,
"You've won me, you've won me, my lord,
you've won me, you've won me, my lord,
yes, you've won me, you've won me, my lord,
ah, you've won me, you've won me, my lord,
ah, you've won me, you've won me, my lord."


Tonight Will Be Fine

Sometimes I find I get to thinking of the past.
We swore to each other then that our love would surely last.
You kept right on loving, I went on a fast,
now I am too thin and your love is too vast.

But I know from your eyes
and I know from your smile
that tonight will be fine,
will be fine, will be fine, will be fine
for a while.

I choose the rooms that I live in with care,
the windows are small and the walls almost bare,
there's only one bed and there's only one prayer;
I listen all night for your step on the stair.

But I know from your eyes
and I know from your smile
that tonight will be fine,
will be fine, will be fine, will be fine
for a while.

Oh sometimes I see her undressing for me,
she's the soft naked lady love meant her to be
and she's moving her body so brave and so free.
If I've got to remember that's a fine memory.

And I know from her eyes
and I know from her smile
that tonight will be fine,
will be fine, will be fine, will be fine
for a while.


Below: Marianne & The Room of Leonard's house
in Hydra (from back cover of the album)





Copyright © 1969 Leonard Cohen,
Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada Company
and Anna Marly & Hy Zaret




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