Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)


“Democracy” was read by Leonard Cohen on a 1996 compilation CD entitled The United States of Poetry. “Suzanne” and “Bird On the Wire” are songs from his CD The Best of Leonard Cohen. “Everybody Knows” is from his CD I’m Your Man.



Democracy

It’s comin’ through a hole in the air
From those nights in Tienamen Square
It’s comin’ from the feel that this ain’t exactly real
Or it’s real but it ain’t exactly there
From the wars against disorder
From the sirens night and day
From the fires of the homeless
From the ashes of the gay
Democracy is comin’ to the U.S.A.

It’s comin’ from the sorrow in the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin’ that goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
It’s comin’ to America first
The cradle of the best and of the worst
It’s here they got the range and the machinery of change
And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst
It’s here the family’s broken
And it’s here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open in a fundamental way
Democracy is comin’ to the U.S.A.

I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just stayin’ home tonight
Gettin’ lost in that hopeless little screen
And I’m stubborn as those garbage bags that time cannot decay
I’m junk, but I’m still holdin’ up this little wild bouquet
Democracy is comin’ to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on almighty ship of state!
To the shores of need
Past the reefs of greed
Through the squalls of hate
Sail on!
Sail on!
Sail on!




   




Suzanne

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night beside her
And you know that she’s half crazy, but that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her that you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength and she lets the river answer
That you’ve always been her lover

And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind

And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said “All men will be sailors then, until the sea shall free them.”
But he himself was broken long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone         

And you want to travel with him, and you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind

Now Suzanne takes your hand and she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbor
And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror

And you want to travel with her and you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind




   




Bird On the Wire

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

Like the 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

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




   




Everybody Knows

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody’s talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long-stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
When you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Ol’ Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach at Malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
Everybody knows