Lyrical Evolution Of Leonard Cohen’s Lullaby


I thought that ‘Lullaby’ was just what everyone needs to get to sleep in these troubled timesquotedown2

Leonard Cohen

The changes Leonard Cohen makes in lyrics of his songs are always intriguing and often enlightening. A couple of stanzas from an early, never performed draft of Lullaby are transcribed in Leonard Cohen, Down From the Mountain by Neil Strauss, published in the March 19, 2009 edition of Rolling Stone (which is also the source of the preceding quotation):

Through a net of lies,
I’ll come to you.

When the dead arise,
I will wait there, too.

If your heart is torn,
who can wonder why?

If the night is long,
here’s my lullaby.

The last verse (before the final refrain) of Lullaby the first public performance of Lullaby at the April 3, 2009.Grand Prairie, Texas concert, addresses that same apocalyptic scene but in different words:

Though it’s much too late,
and we’ve taken our stand
When they call up your name
we’ll go hand in hand.

If your heart is torn,
who can wonder why?

If the night is long,
here’s my lullaby.

The same segment of the version of Lullaby on the 2012 Old Ideas album is a tad gentler, with a more ambiguous description about the impending night rather than the direct reference to the end of the world, and more personal, with the pronoun shift in the refrain from “who can wonder why?” to “I don’t wonder why”:

Sleep baby sleep
There’s a morning to come
The wind in the trees
they’re talking in tongues

If your heart is torn
I don’t wonder why
If the night is long
Here’s my lullaby

Note: Originally posted Feb 2, 2015 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

One Reply to “Lyrical Evolution Of Leonard Cohen’s Lullaby”

  1. Vicki Woodyard

    Lullabye is a little saccharine for my tastes. I do like the verses you posted better than the one on the album. I listen to Dear Heather at night and it is one of his most under-rated albums in my opinion. Except for the song “Dear Heather.” It’s as bad as Jazz Police. A real stinker.