Legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen  has died at the age of 82


Famous Blue Raincoat (1971) by Leonard COHEN

 It’s four in the morning, the end of December
I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better
New York is cold, but I like where I’m living
There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.

I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert
You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record.

Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?

Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You’d been to the station to meet every train
And you came home without Lili Marlene

And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody’s wife.

Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief
Well I see Jane’s awake

She sends her regards.
And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
I’m glad you stood in my way.

If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
Well your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear


Sincerely, L. Cohen
This song is written in the form of a letter and  tells the story of a love triangle between the speaker, a woman named Jane, and the man he’s writing to, who is ,identified only briefly as “my brother, my killer.”

In the lyrics there are references to the german ove song “Lili Marlene,” to scientology, and to Clinton Street (Manhattan), where  Cohen lived in the 1970s when it was a lively Latino area.

Some critics say that Cohen’s question, “Did you ever go clear?”, in the song, is a reference to the Scientology  state of “Clear “. Cohen was very briefly a member of the Church of Scientology, because he had heard it was a “good place to meet women.”[

He said that the famous blue raincoat to which he refers actually belonged to him,: “ I had a good raincoat then, a Burberry. I got in London in 1959. Elizabeth thought I looked like a spider in it. That was probably why she wouldn’t go to Greece  with me. It hung more heroically when I took out the lining(inside layer), and achieved glory when the worn out  sleeves were repaired with a little leather….. It was stolen from Marianne’s loft in New York sometime during the early seventies.

Cohen’s version is sung from the perspective of a man discussing with another man a woman they both had a relationship with. Many female artists have managed to flip the gender and make the song even more ambiguous (Joan Baez, Ornella Vanoni: “La famosa volpe azzurra”) .




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