Song Lyric Sunday: Music – ‘Chelsea Hotel #2’

A pretty broad theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, being hosted by Jim at A Unique Title For Me: ‘Harmony, Melody. Music’. Plenty of possibilities there.

If I hadn’t drunk from the almost inexhaustible well that is the Grateful Dead’s songbook only two weeks ago, I would probably have plumped for ‘The Music Never Stopped’. However, instead here is another song where the keyword of the theme is to be found in the lyrics rather than the title: Leonard Cohen’s ‘Chelsea Hotel #2’, from the album ‘New Skin For The Old Ceremony’.

It is, of course, about his brief relationship with Janis Joplin – not one of the great romances, you have to assume, given that dismissive final line: ‘I don’t even think of you that often’

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
you were talking so brave and so sweet,
giving me head on the unmade bed,
while the limousines wait in the street.
Those were the reasons and that was New York,
we were running for the money and the flesh.
And that was called love for the workers in song
probably still is for those of them left.
Ah but you got away, didn’t you babe,
you just turned your back on the crowd,
you got away, I never once heard you say,
I need you, I don’t need you,
I need you, I don’t need you
and all of that jiving around.

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
you were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you preferred handsome men
but for me you would make an exception.
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said, “Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music.”

And then you got away, didn’t you babe…

I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best,
I can’t keep track of each fallen robin.
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
that’s all, I don’t even think of you that often.

Written by Leonard Cohen

Song Lyric Sunday: Harmony/Melody/Music

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