Leonard Cohen: Chelsea Hotel #2 Live


I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
you were talking so brave and so sweet,
giving me head on the unmade bed,
while the limousines wait in the street.
Those were the reasons and that was New York,
we were running for the money and the flesh.
And that was called love for the workers in song
probably still is for those of them left.

Ah but you got away, didn’t you babe,
you just turned your back on the crowd,
you got away, I never once heard you say,
I need you, I don’t need you,
I need you, I don’t need you
and all of that jiving around.

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
you were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you preferred handsome men
but for me you would make an exception.
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said, “Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music.”

And then you got away, didn’t you babe…

I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best,
I can’t keep track of each fallen robin.
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
that’s all, my little darling, I don’t even think of you that often.

There is so much to read into this beautiful song, a song that each one of us would like to dedicate to somebody from our past, a relationship that crowned our hopes for love beyond reach. There is something outstanding in being able to recognize everything from the lobby of that hotel to its elevator with its buttons, decades later, as if as a sudden time returned to that past moment, long ago…The memory of a perfect moment, a clever line, a new tune, a lovely moment, love. Leonard cherishes this personal moment  in a way that is so distinctively profound, that elevates the scene of meeting Janis, to a higher level of mindfulness and perception, a spiritual level where the mind and body fly above the prosaic, where we become art, love. In that space there is no human imperfection, as art – music – perfects and beautifies everything: To reach that fabulous place you need to follow Leonard’s direction to the 5th floor, the place where music makes life worth living. A beautiful song, a lovely dedication to Janis Joplin.

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