Song Lyric Sunday – 29 November 2020 – Bird on the Wire

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs. Jim has given us Bird /Cat /Dog /Fish /Pet this week to be included in the title or lyrics.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

This week there was no option for me other than to choose this classic song from my youth. Often played in dingy students’ rooms, lit by candlelight, joss sticks burning in the background. We were all in love, we were all in love with this song and this album. I received the album as a 21st birthday present from a sumptuous girl from Walton, in Liverpool. She was a student teacher, I was in the army. We were passing ships in the night and almost docked permanently. It was that intense. I think of Jen every time I hear this song.

Bird on the Wire appeared on the album Songs From A Room, recorded on 26 September 1968 in Nashville and released in 1969.

In the 1960s, Leonard Cohen lived on the Greek island Hydra with his girlfriend Marianne Ihlen, the woman depicted on the back cover of the album. She has related how she helped him out of a depression by handing him his guitar, whereupon he began composing “Bird on the Wire”, inspired by a bird sitting on one of Hydra’s recently installed phone wires.

Cohen said “I always begin my concert with this song. It seems to return me to my duties. It was begun in Greece and finished in a motel in Hollywood around 1969 along with everything else. Some lines were changed in Oregon. I can’t seem to get it perfect.”

Bird on the Wire

Leonard Cohen

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

For 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

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Leonard Cohen

Bird on the Wire lyrics © BMG Rights Management

And for something totally different, and outside the rules

31 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday – 29 November 2020 – Bird on the Wire

  1. One of the best songs ever written. It’s been a while since I listened to it. Always makes me cry. Actually, most of Leonard Cohen’s songs make me cry but I love them anyway. 🙂
    Love the bird cartoon and the lesson it teaches.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great entry (ies) today, Peter! Leonard Cohen is always going to have a place in my heart. And I hadn’t seen the For the Birds video in years so thank you for sharing that, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a great post, as usual. In 1993, Cohen got a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) for “Male Vocalist of the Year” and he began his acceptance speech saying, “It’s only in a country like this that I could get male vocalist of the year.” There’s no question that he meant it, and the audience roared with laughter. Youtube has the speech and he is completely charming.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The most moving Cohen for me is the last record he made before he died. His gravelly voice really captures some timeless truths such as “let’s keep it on the level.” Of course I also love his earlier work. Stayed once in Toronto with a woman who once “knew” Cohen, one among many I presume. Of course I would have chosen “you ain’t nothing but a hound dog” for this challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent, Peter!!! Mr. Cohen has always been a fav singer of mine! So many of his songs get me teary-eyed. 🙂 What an amazing writer, poet, and singer!

    HA! Love the For the Birds vid! Gave me the giggles! 😀
    (((HUGS))) 🙂
    PS…speaking of birds…reminds me of a quote: “Tough times don’t last…but tough birds do.” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Peter. Lord have mercy. That song slayed me times a million. Felt like a song I could have written from my soul to God. Leonard Cohen is so brilliant it’s absolutely astounding. I’d never heard that song and it seriously went to the core of me. Full out crying when it finished. So sweet. Clean. Raw. True. I smile that You had such a beautiful connection with Jen and think of her when You hear that. Joni Mitchell’s album ‘Blue’ does that to me..reminds me of someone who will remain dear to my heart as long as I live. And BLESS YOU for posting the wonderfully silly birds video after to help me snap out of it!!! Ah. Sending You huge hugs and many Thanks for all of this!!! 🤗❤️😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries! I find it crazy beautiful and delightful when art in any form can just dive bomb right to the pit of Your soul in a heartbeat!!! Amazing. Even if it brings tears. It’s a wonderful reminder to me how very connected we all are…..we share so very much. And right?!! Songs are such time machines!!! 😃💖🤗

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this song! I actually started singing it while out in the meadow the other day. My dad has always called anything by Leonard Cohen ‘music to slit your wrists by,’ but he’s been one of my favourite musicians since I first heard my mum play his records.

    Liked by 2 people

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