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Leonard Cohen — Bird on the Wire
Album: Field Commander Cohen
Avg rating:
6.7

Your rating:
Total ratings: 364









Released: 2002
Length: 4:59
Plays (last 30 days): 0
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
Comments (99)add comment
RIP, Leonard. As the throng of a thousand protesters marched by outside the window at The Riverside last night during a fabulous poetic musical performance by Ellen Sevigny and Leonard Armijo, we got the news of LC's passing, and we felt the world grow colder.
Ok, I respect Leonard as a person, he was one of the best people on earth probably, and as a fellow Canadian, but no, I cannot like this
Loved his voice when he was younger and when he was older.  We'll sure miss your poetic songs Leonard.  You will live on forever!  Goodbye my balladeer!! 
TerryS wrote:
Since he is older than either (both, if you prefer), technically not possible.
Hmmm....I don't think age is the only reason that is technically not possible. I prefer to use my imagination and not to impose boring limits.
I love the Fairport Convention version with Ian Mathews & Sandy Denny in beautiful harmony :dance:
Fantastic version of a beautiful song.Anyone know who plays the lovely guitar solo?
ThePoose wrote:
And some time before Phil Spector (allegedly) offed that B movie actress, he put a gun to Lenny's head during their time recording together and said, ''I love you, Leonard.'' LC replied, ''I sure hope you do, Phil.''
And now (late March 2007) the jurors are being rounded up for Phil's murder trail. What a long, strange trip the rock and roll lifestyle is.
AvoidingWork wrote:
I think this would be perfect for Willie Nelson. Anybody know if he has done it?
I know that Cash did it on one of his American Recording CD's, that was actually the first place that I heard this song. Steve
Is this a case of LC spontaneously re-writing his lyrics, which he is known to do? I believe these words are different from the 1969 original on Songs From a Room.
yermum wrote:
If any of you have yet to see the recent film I'm Your Man I recommend it highly. It includes a performance of "If It Be Your Will" by Antony of Antony and the Johnsons that haunted me for days. Anyway - love this version of the song. First time I've heard it -- all of those singing lessons must have paid off. ;-)
I uploaded Antony's "If it Be Your Will" to the LRC so go forth and vote! Opinion is divided this far. TJ
mach-hog wrote:
8) Canada's greatest poet and songwriter. Too bad he'll have to die before he's hailed for the genius he is. Then there will be much attention paid to this noble mind...
If any of you have yet to see the recent film I'm Your Man I recommend it highly. It includes a performance of "If It Be Your Will" by Antony of Antony and the Johnsons that haunted me for days. Anyway - love this version of the song. First time I've heard it -- all of those singing lessons must have paid off. ;-)
celadonstone wrote:
Len Cohen does look a little like Hoffman on this cover, even if he is older. They have a similar ethnic heritage. The older we all get, the more similar we start to look, right? :wink:
Maybe we all need glasses.
Len Cohen does look a little like Hoffman on this cover, even if he is older. They have a similar ethnic heritage. The older we all get, the more similar we start to look, right? :wink:
:sleep:
QueenLucia wrote:
HEE HEE! He does look a bit like Dustim Hoffman & Al Pacino's love child in this photo. LEONARD COHEN RULES!! :clap:
Since he is older than either (both, if you prefer), technically not possible.
ohhh i wannna beee bobbbb-dylannnnnnnnnnnn. ohhh i wannna beee bobbbb-dylannnnnnnnnnnn. butttt i just canttttttt. the lyrics are enjoyable but the singing makes me think of Dylan while at the same time falling way short.
culchie wrote:
Does anyone else think he looks like Al Pacino in the photo?
HEE HEE! He does look a bit like Dustim Hoffman & Al Pacino's love child in this photo. LEONARD COHEN RULES!! :clap:
Cohen and live,shivers!
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: BEAUTIFUL!
It's nice enough... I really like the Judy Collins version... Does anyone else think he looks like Al Pacino in the photo?
Leonard Cohen's singing normally gets the same reaction from me as fingernails running down a blackboard. This version of this song is actually not that bad. Do any of my fellow Canadians remember when Cohen was nominated for a "Best Male Vocalist" Juno award a few years back? (For you non-Canadians, the Junos are our national music awards -- like the Grammys.) Even Cohen himself thought it was absurd!
If you love Leonard check out Bay area group " Conspiricy of Beards". Very hip all male vocal choir that do LC exclusively.Shows he's a great song writer oft better served by cover artists who still maintain the will to live!
This song has a real Neil Diamond feel in my opinion. I wish they played a bit of Neil Diamond on RP.
a friend just loaned me his copy of a (relatively) new book entitled: DYLAN & COHEN - Poets of Rock and Roll by: David Boucher continuum press, 2004 www.continuumbooks.com It's the best of anything of this type I've read on either artist. Really worthwhile. :notworthy: Cohen is amazing... this is one of his many best songs.
artmarcia wrote:
Who is the singer most associated with this song?
Tim Hardin?
redeyespy wrote:
I'd be willing to send in a donation somewhere to prevent that from happening.
I'll send you my address. I'll take care of it* *Restrictions apply
AvoidingWork wrote:
I think this would be perfect for Willie Nelson. Anybody know if he has done it?
The last person who replied to you seemed to think you were making a knowing joke. Were you? I mean, because Willie has done this song and it was very good. Perhaps I missed something here.
TonyBear wrote:
Music to slit your wrists to.
If you mean music to die for, you're right.
Music to slit your wrists to.
AvoidingWork wrote:
I think this would be perfect for Willie Nelson. Anybody know if he has done it?
What do you think? ;)
I also like k.d. lang's version. meloman wrote:
Judy Collins. She did quite a few LC songs.
This works for me
i enjoy all things leonard.
Fredrikson wrote:
argh what's up with the odd version? the other REAL version is a personal favourite of mine and this one just hurts listening to.
I agree.
argh what's up with the odd version? the other REAL version is a personal favourite of mine and this one just hurts listening to.
physicsgenius wrote:
Looks like Dustin Hoffman.
At last...I can agree with physicsgenius!!!!
Looks like Dustin Hoffman.
I think this would be perfect for Willie Nelson. Anybody know if he has done it?
And some time before Phil Spector (allegedly) offed that B movie actress, he put a gun to Lenny's head during their time recording together and said, ''I love you, Leonard.'' LC replied, ''I sure hope you do, Phil.''
Loved it 30 years ago, studio version. Still do. This incarnation? Not so much.
... One of my fav. Cohen songs from way back, not that I go way back but It's been around for as long as I can remember and it's still so poignant and fresh ... ...
artmarcia wrote:
Who is the singer most associated with this song?
Judy Collins. She did quite a few LC songs.
halfgazo wrote:
Maybe Cracker will do a cover of this one.
I'd be willing to send in a donation somewhere to prevent that from happening.
Never been a Leonard Cohen to begin with, but this is painful! Make it stop!! :doh:
Should have been a Johnny Cash song. Maybe Cracker will do a cover of this one.
I could listen to Leonard Cohen all day!
mach-hog wrote:
8) Canada's greatest poet and songwriter. Too bad he'll have to die before he's hailed for the genius he is. Then there will be much attention paid to this noble mind...
You mean he's NOT from here? Yippee!!
He wrote the song. This is its original incarnation. Puke away. Mugro wrote:
Just when I think that Leonard Cohen was so bad that I could just puke, now I hear him attempting to sing a country song!!! Country is bad enough with Leonard Cohen butchering it!!!! :puke: :puke: :puke: :puke:
This sucks balls.
Just when I think that Leonard Cohen was so bad that I could just puke, now I hear him attempting to sing a country song!!! Country is bad enough with Leonard Cohen butchering it!!!! :puke: :puke: :puke: :puke:
inthefog wrote:
I don't know about the most associated, but I personnally really like Johnny Cash's version.
Agreed. That's how I know the song.
Likeable tune, but why'd Leonard put Dustin Hoffman on the cover?
I love this song and the killer lyrics. My favorite version, though, is Willie Nelson's on the LC tribute album "Tower of Song." Perfection.
a poet does not a singer make.
ZZZZZ-ZZZZZ-ZZZZZ- ZZZZZ-ZZZZZ-ZZZZZ
rulebritannia wrote:
I'm an avid Leonard Cohen fan, but this was never one of my favorite LC songs. And this version is even less engaging than the original.
I hear you. I have loved LC for many years, but for whatever reason, this is the one song I don't care for. And yet it's one of his most famous. Odd, that.
Sorry.... Leonard ALWAYS brings down the RP show
The song is great, and I'm a long time Leonard Cohen fanatic (when I lived in Paris in 1969 I only owned two albums, and one of them was his)... but I have to agree with those who don't think this is the greatest interpretation. I much prefer the studio version...
The absolute best version of this song is by Judy Collins, on her Who Knows Where the Time Goes album, with Stephen Stills in the band. Take my word for it. I wouldn't steer you wrong.
I've only heard Larry Gross' take on "Mountain Stage", but that's what turned me on to the song... mojoman wrote:
Aaron Neville did a nice take on it, too.
rulebritannia wrote:
I'm an avid Leonard Cohen fan, but this was never one of my favorite LC songs. And this version is even less engaging than the original.
my sentiments exactly. Cohen at his weakest. Blech.
someone needs to give "Field Commander Cohen" the firing squad..... :puke: ........oh please make it stop......
inthefog wrote:
I don't know about the most associated, but I personnally really like Johnny Cash's version.
Aaron Neville did a nice take on it, too.
artmarcia wrote:
Who is the singer most associated with this song?
I don't know about the most associated, but I personnally really like Johnny Cash's version.
8) Canada's greatest poet and songwriter. Too bad he'll have to die before he's hailed for the genius he is. Then there will be much attention paid to this noble mind...
Cohen fanatic here who thinks this was one (and maybe the only one) for the recording room "floor".
shari wrote:
Hmm, considering he's a Jewish Buddist monk, why not? Actually, there is a great deal of ritual and religious references in his work. A lot of his imagery is sacred and very sensual at the same time -- not the usual fodder for the evangelical movements. One reason I love it so much. Great song and wonderful version. Shari
I often wondered whether people who are religious or have a religious background do appreciate artists like Cohen and Dylan more.
Mugro wrote:
I hate to disagree with most of you, but I don't understand people's adoration of this guy. This song sounds like something you would hear on some Christian station. :puke: Tacky crap!
Hmm, considering he's a Jewish Buddist monk, why not? Actually, there is a great deal of ritual and religious references in his work. A lot of his imagery is sacred and very sensual at the same time -- not the usual fodder for the evangelical movements. One reason I love it so much. Great song and wonderful version. Shari
So he seems to be voraciously popular among fans, particularly for his songwriting, which I can appreciate, but given his singing talent, I long for the day when singer and songwriter were rarely if ever the same person.
I try to be open-minded about the music that I hear on this station, but I'm sorry, this song is uninspired and, frankly, sucks.
federico wrote:
a surpsingly ineffective version of a very good song ....
Well, he's known more for the songs he's written....like this one.
a surpsingly ineffective version of a very good song ....
ANNE_MARIE wrote:
My rating went from 4 to 7...it's growing on me. Thanks for the exposure R&B!
I'll put a 4 back up there for ya. Are all his songs good like this?
The artist is most excellent, the song is good, but the interpretation is not great...
I hate to disagree with most of you, but I don't understand people's adoration of this guy. This song sounds like something you would hear on some Christian station. :puke: Tacky crap!
I just love it when a song makes me stop and listen... isn’t that what they are suppose to do? Mission accomplished.
artmarcia wrote:
Who is the singer most associated with this song?
The list of people who've covered Leonard's song is legion. He's one of the greatest songwriters of the twentieth century.
Who is the singer most associated with this song?
I'm an avid Leonard Cohen fan, but this was never one of my favorite LC songs. And this version is even less engaging than the original.
would like this as an instrumental....
Not crazy about this version. But one of his best song. I wish someone could write me such a beautiful epitaph when I'll need it...Not too soon I hope. I have tried in my way to be free.
My rating went from 4 to 7...it's growing on me. Thanks for the exposure R&B!
Never thought I'd hear this song outside my home stereo!
wow, really nice, thanks mr. dj! I kinda enjoyed the frills, and I was glad to hear his voice sans the cheesy canned organ. Went and saw the album comments and am on to purchase now! More Leonard Cohen'd be just fine! For those of you who somehow hated this - try giving the lyrics a listen also. But seriously, how can you hate his voice?
Ick ... the Bobs' a-cappella-speed-metal-surf-punk rendition is much better. :D
Originally Posted by MsJudi: OMG this is awful... worse than awful.
Originally Posted by MsJudi: OMG this is awful... worse than awful.
Why do you say that? I quite like it on my first listen. I'm always interested to hear why people say that something is truely bad when it seems like a decent song.
ANY Leonard Cohen, from any era, under any circumstances, is appreciated! ;)
I first saw Leonard Cohen in college---in Washington DC in the mid 1970s--at a small folk club in Georgetown. I sat right next to the stage. He was mesmerizing. I've seen him 3 or 4 times through the years—in San Francisco and in New York. He's such a great artist and poet---I wish he would tour again in between meditating on some mountain top in California. For those who don't like his voice, close your eyes, open your mind and listen to his words. More Leonard Cohen is certainly appreciated by me.
OMG this is awful... worse than awful.
I think Leonard must have borrowed the doo-wop feel-good organ used in this song from Simon & Garfunkel\'s \"Concert in Central Park\" record....
The only other time I have heard this song is when I heard Jennifer Warnes sing it on corporate radio. Now THAT SUCKED! And this really bites the big one as well.
Originally Posted by kevinc: Well I may be mixing Leonard up with someone else, but I thought he had a rather rough sounding voice on other tracks played on RP. Kevin
this is the YOUNG Leonard (from the 60s) :rolleyes:
originally posted by lbrc: if this is singing, what is grumbling? :evil: what, no slide guitar?
well i may be mixing leonard up with someone else, but i thought he had a rather rough sounding voice on other tracks played on rp. kevin
originally posted by kevinc: wait a second. leonard cohen can sing? i could've sworn he just kinda grumbled. i like this.
if this is singing, what is grumbling? :evil: what, no slide guitar?
Wait a second. Leonard Cohen can sing? I could\'ve sworn he just kinda grumbled. I like this.
I rted this a 1....it is the worst LC rendition (if I can call it that) that I\'ve ever heard... please no more :eek:
While a fan of Leonard, I dislike this version. I think he\'s better stripped down and basic, without the frills and orchestration.
Bird on a Wire... I was just thinking about this song, and the Willie Nelson version, too... excellent mood-match for me.
More LC would be fine.