Bird On The Wire (1969)
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.
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.
In the 1960s, Cohen was living lived on the Greek island Hydra with his girlfriend Marianne Ihlen (*), who tried to help him out of a depression by handing him his guitar. So he began composing “Bird on the Wire” – inspired by a bird sitting on one of Hydra’s recently installed phone wires, followed by memories of wet island nights.
This song, covered by many artists including Joe Cocker and Johnny Cash, was described as simultaneously a prayer and an anthem.
(*) The Bird on a Wire singer predicted his death in a final love letter to his dying ex-girlfriend Marianne Ihlen earlier this year.
” … I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.”
“And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that.
“But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”