Tag Archives: Chelsea Hotel

Leonard Cohen Chelsea Hotel #2 Live


LEONARD COHEN LYRICS

Chelsea Hotel #2″

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, I don’t even think of you that often.

Leonard Cohen Chelsea Hotel #2 Live



Leonard Cohen performing Chelsea Hotel #2 in concert including a little setup to
the song.

Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1



I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel 
You were talking so brave and so free 
Giving me head on the unmade bed 
While the limousines wait in the street 
And those were the reasons and that was New York 
I was running for the money and the flesh 
That was called love for the workers in song 
It still is for those of us left. 
But you got away, didn’t you, baby? 
You just threw it all to the crowd 
You got away, they can’t pay you now 
For making your sweet little song 
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel, 
In the winter of 67 
My friends of that year they were all trying to go queer 
And me I was just getting even 
And those were the reasons and that was New York 
I was running for the money and the flesh 
That was called love for the workers in song 
It still is for those of us left 
But you got away, didn’t you, baby? 
You just threw it all to the crowd 
You got away, they can’t pay you now 
For making your sweet little song

Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1 (I travel deep in my heart every time I listen to this song)



 

THE ONCE-UNMADE BED IN LEONARD COHEN’S CHELSEA HOTEL ROOM

On a trip to New York last month, Mel Joss made a pilgrimage to Room 424 of the Chelsea Hotel, where Leonard Cohen was one of the many famous artists and writers in residence,1  In planning the posting of the photos Mel took during this expedition, I came to realize that these images could be used to best effect as elements in a video of Chelsea Hotel #1, the version of the Chelsea Hotel song before it became Chelsea Hotel #2.

THE CHELSEA HOTEL #1 VIDEO, LEONARD COHEN & JANIS JOPLIN

The video features the audio recording of the first version of Chelsea Hotel from Leonard Cohen’s 1972 concert in Tel Aviv2 complemented by images of Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin (whose liaison with Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel led to the creation of the song), the Chelsea Hotel, and other people and places associated with the song.

In part, this video is offered in support of my contention that thematically Chelsea Hotel #1 is  a much different song than Chelsea Hotel #2.

Chelsea Hotel #1  focuses on the death of the singer’s (i.e., Leonard Cohen’s) lover (i.e., Janis Joplin), with whom the singer identifies primarily  as as an admired fellow artist and colleague and only secondarily as an object of affection or, at least, of reciprocated lust.  In Chelsea Hotel #2, the situation is reversed with the key issue becoming the  singer’s unambiguous examination of his own feelings for and perception of the woman at the Chelsea Hotel – even if doing so results in an ignoble self-characterization.

In the second version, the listener’s knowledge of the identity of Janis Joplin is decidedly less important to experiencing the full impact of he song, which could indeed be the reason Leonard Cohen revised Chelsea Hotel #1 – to make the music more universal and less a biographic tribute to a specific individual.

Further, if Cohen  revealed who inspired the Chelsea Hotel song while it was still in its first iteration,3 it could, in addition, explain why Cohen famously came to regret this disclosure since it would have been helpful information to those hearing Chelsea Hotel #1  but would have been not only unnecessary but also  counterproductive for audiences listening to Chelsea Hotel #2.

Update: For more discussion of the significance of the differences between Chelsea Hotel #1 and Chelsea Hotel #2, including a video interview with Leonard Cohen addressing his relationship with Janis Joplin as portrayed in the songs, see How Often Did Leonard Cohen Think Of Janis Joplin’s Sweet Little Sound? – Chelsea Hotel #1 & 2

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.

Chelsea Hotel #2 (Song for JANIS JOPLIN) by Leonard Cohen (Subtitulado Español)



Chelsea Hotel, (by Leonard Cohen)

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, I don’t even think of you that often.