Johnny Cash’s Cover Of “Bird On A Wire” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

Biggest Influence on My Music – The jukebox. I lived beside jukeboxes all through the fifties. … I never knew who was singing. I never followed things that way. I still don’t. I wasn’t a student of music; I was a student of the restaurant I was in — and the waitresses. The music was a part of it. I knew what number the song was.

– Leonard Cohen (Yakety Yak by Scott Cohen, 1994)

Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox: Over the years, Leonard Cohen has mentioned a number of specific songs he favors. Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox is a Cohencentric feature that began collecting these tunes for the edification and entertainment of viewers on April 4, 2009. All posts in the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox series can be found at the Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

I was blown away!

Leonard Cohen on Johnny Cash’s
Performance of Bird On A Wire

Yesterday someone brought up Johnny Cash’s version of Bird On A Wire. Today I bought the record it’s on, ‘American Recordings,’ in a small import shop here in Amsterdam. I didn’t believe my ears. Only the man’s voice and guitar. I was blown away! Those are moments that I think: what am I actually doing here in this business! But if a concert hall full of people – let alone a sports stadium full of people – thinks I can sing then I can sing, isn’t that so?

Leonard Cohen

From Nieuwe live cd gedeeltelijk in Stopera opgenomen [New live cd partly recorded in Stopera] by Jip Golsteijn (De Telegraaf: July 30, 1994). Contributed and translated by Anja Deelen

Credit Due Department: Photo of Johnny Cash by Heinrich Klaffs

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Leonard Cohen Explains Why Bird On The Wire “Is So Important To Me”


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The song [Bird On The Wire] is so important to me. It’s that one verse where I say that I swear by this song, and by all that I have done wrong, I’ll make it all up to thee. In that verse it’s a vow that I’ll try and redeem everything that’s gone wrong. I think I’ve made it too many times now, but I like to keep renewing it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Cohen Regrets (1973) by Alastair Pirrie. Beat Patrol: December 30, 2008. [Originally written for the New Musical Express: March 10, 1973.] Originally posted Nov 19, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Moving Performance Of Bird On The Wire – Amsterdam 2012

Featuring Mitch Watkins & Neil Larsen

I have tried in my way to be free

Leonard Cohen – Bird On The Wire
Amsterdam: Aug 22, 2012
Video by

Note: Originally posted Aug 26, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen on “Famous Blue Raincoat” & “Bird On The Wire” as unfinished songs & why he released them anyway

Interviewer: What about “Famous Blue Raincoat?”

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That was written on Clinton Street. I never felt I really sealed that song; I never felt the carpentry was finished. That song and ‘Bird on the Wire’ were two songs I never successfully finished, but they were good enough to be used. Also, with the poverty of songs I have for each record, I can’t afford to discard one as good as that. It’s one of the better tunes I’ve written, but lyrically it’s too mysterious, too unclear.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Note: View photos of Leonard Cohen’s Clinton Street digs and surroundings at “New York is cold, but I like where I’m living” The View From Leonard Cohen’s 1960s NYC Apartment

Sincerely, L. Cohen by Brian Cullman (Details for Men, January, 1993). Originally posted Oct 10, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Leonard Cohen Performs Bird On The Wire – German TV 1979

Leonard Cohen’s October 31, 1979 performance of a set at the ZDF-TV Studio in München, Deutschland was taped for later broadcast. Many, if not all, of the songs he played that day have been previously posted individually. Eight of the songs are available at Dec 2, 1979 ZDF-TV Rock-Pop Special

Bird On The Wire, however, was broadcast on the November 10, 1979 edition of the same show.

Thanks to Milan Zivancevic, who alerted me to this video.