Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire

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Bird on a Wire

CHORUS: 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 had been untrue
I hope that you know it was never to you

Oh 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
Any pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me, hey, why not ask for more?

CHORUS: Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free



songwriter: Leonard Cohen

performed by: Leonard Cohen

date released: 1969 by Leonard Cohen

"Bird on a Wire" has become an anthem for Cohen in his career. The genesis of Bird was in Greece, on the island of Hydra where Cohen lived with his girlfriend Marianne.

When he first arrived on the island, it was an idyllic existence without wires of electricity or telephones. Soon the wires arrived and cilivization caught up with Cohen. Next came a bird which perched on the wire and sent Cohen into a tailspin of depression. Sensing his mood, Marianne handed Cohen his guitar and Bird was born.

As a metaphor for his life, the birds were his fellow artists and friends who arrived on Hydra to fete Cohen. Endless nights were spent stumbling up the stairs from the port of Hydra, drunk and singing, to his little cottage.

Singer-songwriter, musician, poet, novelist Leonard Cohen was born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1934. His grandparents emigrated from Europe; his grandfather came from Poland and his grandmother, from Lithuania. Cohen's father owned a clothing store in Montreal. As a teenager, Cohen learned to play the guitar and experimented with his voice as an instrument in reading his poetry.

In 1951, Cohen enrolled at McGill University majoring in Literature and specializing in poetry and fiction. Yeats, Whitman, Frederico Garcia Lorca and Henry Miller were his early influences.

His first successful song as a songwriter was "Suzanne" which became a hit for American singer, Judy Collins in 1967. In spite of his early success, international recognition eluded him; his recordings sold mostly in Canada and Europe.

"Bird on a Wire" followed a year after the success of "Suzanne". Apparent within are Cohen's dualistic views of sin and forgiveness. Some literary scholars have explored the theme of "bird on a wire" as a metaphor for Jesus on the cross.

In 1994, Cohen retreated from public life and entered a Buddhist monastery at Mount Baldy Zen Centre near Los Angeles. In 1996, Cohen was ordained as a Buddhist monk.

In 2001, following his five-year-seclusion at the monastery, Cohen returned to the music world and began to tour again around the world at the grand age of sixty-seven years old. Leonard Cohen became the quintessential Renaissance man; his music soared to the top of the charts again.

In his lifetime, Leonard Cohen has received many prestigious awards and honours. In 1968, he received a Governor-General's Award for his poetry which he refused. In 1991, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. 1993 saw Cohen receiving his first Juno Award for Male Vocalist of the Year. Canada's highest civilian honour, Companion of the Order of Canada was bestowed upon Leonard Cohen. In 2007, Cohen received his first Grammy Award as a featured artist in Herbie Hancock's jazz album, "River: The Joni Letters". The Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him in 2008. Most recently, Leonard Cohen became a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec. Showing no signs of slowing down, we can expect a lot more accolades for Leonard Cohen in the future.

















Bird on a Wire

CHORUS: 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 had been untrue
I hope that you know it was never to you

Oh 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
Any pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me, hey, why not ask for more?

CHORUS: Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free



songwriter: Leonard Cohen

performed by: Leonard Cohen

date released: 1969 by Leonard Cohen

"Bird on a Wire" has become an anthem for Cohen in his career. The genesis of Bird was in Greece, on the island of Hydra where Cohen lived with his girlfriend Marianne.

When he first arrived on the island, it was an idyllic existence without wires of electricity or telephones. Soon the wires arrived and cilivization caught up with Cohen. Next came a bird which perched on the wire and sent Cohen into a tailspin of depression. Sensing his mood, Marianne handed Cohen his guitar and Bird was born.

As a metaphor for his life, the birds were his fellow artists and friends who arrived on Hydra to fete Cohen. Endless nights were spent stumbling up the stairs from the port of Hydra, drunk and singing, to his little cottage.

Singer-songwriter, musician, poet, novelist Leonard Cohen was born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1934. His grandparents emigrated from Europe; his grandfather came from Poland and his grandmother, from Lithuania. Cohen's father owned a clothing store in Montreal. As a teenager, Cohen learned to play the guitar and experimented with his voice as an instrument in reading his poetry.

In 1951, Cohen enrolled at McGill University majoring in Literature and specializing in poetry and fiction. Yeats, Whitman, Frederico Garcia Lorca and Henry Miller were his early influences.

His first successful song as a songwriter was "Suzanne" which became a hit for American singer, Judy Collins in 1967. In spite of his early success, international recognition eluded him; his recordings sold mostly in Canada and Europe.

"Bird on a Wire" followed a year after the success of "Suzanne". Apparent within are Cohen's dualistic views of sin and forgiveness. Some literary scholars have explored the theme of "bird on a wire" as a metaphor for Jesus on the cross.

In 1994, Cohen retreated from public life and entered a Buddhist monastery at Mount Baldy Zen Centre near Los Angeles. In 1996, Cohen was ordained as a Buddhist monk.

In 2001, following his five-year-seclusion at the monastery, Cohen returned to the music world and began to tour again around the world at the grand age of sixty-seven years old. Leonard Cohen became the quintessential Renaissance man; his music soared to the top of the charts again.

In his lifetime, Leonard Cohen has received many prestigious awards and honours. In 1968, he received a Governor-General's Award for his poetry which he refused. In 1991, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. 1993 saw Cohen receiving his first Juno Award for Male Vocalist of the Year. Canada's highest civilian honour, Companion of the Order of Canada was bestowed upon Leonard Cohen. In 2007, Cohen received his first Grammy Award as a featured artist in Herbie Hancock's jazz album, "River: The Joni Letters". The Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him in 2008. Most recently, Leonard Cohen became a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec. Showing no signs of slowing down, we can expect a lot more accolades for Leonard Cohen in the future.

















+38 -11
Quiz #: 2883
Montreal's native son, Leonard Cohen, writes a pithy one on guilt and redemption
Quiz by: Sharon Michiko Yoneda
High Intermediate

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