Best Of 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen Tour: Bird On A Wire – Lisbon 2010

The September 10, 2010 Lisbon concert proved to be an extraordinarily impressive demonstration of musical skills and showmanship, a phenomenon asdeguia, a correspondent who was in attendance at that show, convincingly attributes to the intense complicity between the band and the audience.

As evidence of the quality of the performances, Cohencentric offers the video of “Bird On A Wire,” perhaps the song from the Leonard Cohen World Tour repertoire most sensitive to musicological nuances (for example, timing, tone, phrasing, …) and least forgiving of flaws. The presentation of “Bird On A Wire” at Lisbon is a lapidary masterpiece.

Leonard Cohen – Bird On A Wire
Lisbon: Sept 10, 2010
Video from Actresspt

Note: Originally posted Jan 5, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Intense Bird On The Wire Performance – Frankfurt 1993

Rarely Seen Performance From The Future Tour 1993

Tom Sakic,1 uploaded an audience recording of Leonard Cohen and his band performing “Bird on the Wire” at the Alt Oper, Frankfurt, Germany, May 27, 1993. Featured on guitar is Bob Metzger, who was also guitarist for the 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour.

While the visual aspect is suboptimal by today’s standards, the video is watchable, and the audio quality is good.  Add in the fact that performances of this song from the 1993 Tour are hard to find, and this video ranks as a must-see for any Cohen fan.

Note: Originally posted Jan 3, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. aka a1000kissesdeep in YouTubeland []

Video – Leonard Cohen Talks About His Life On Hydra: Why He Came, How He Met Marianne, Writing Books & Songs There …

I met a girl and I stayed for eight or ten years.
Yeah, that’s the way it was in those days.

Leonard Cohen

“This was the laboratory of my youth”

In this video, excerpted from the 1988 film Songs From The Life Of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen, accompanied by his backup singers Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen, revisits the home in Hydra that he shared with Marianne of So Long Marianne  In addition to a discussion of his life on Hydra, this clip includes performances  of Who By Fire, Bird On The Wire, So Long Marianne, Partisan, and Famous Blue Raincoat.

Hear Classic 1988 Leonard Cohen Interview: How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns

Shure_mikrofon_55S-700This is an extraordinary interview that includes this quotation that I consider the touchstone of Leonard Cohen’s perspective:

That’s what it’s all about. It says that none of this – you’re not going to be able to work this thing out – you’re not going to be able to set – this realm does not admit to revolution – there’s no solution to this mess. The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say ‘Look, I don’t understand a fucking thing at all – Hallelujah! That’s the only moment that we live here fully as human beings.

The following description is from Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988 at the RTE site:

From the RTÉ archives: Kildare-born novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist and former RTÉ radio producer John MacKenna made two feature programmes in the RTÉ Radio Centre with Leonard Cohen in 1988, entitled ‘How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns’. Together, they offer a remarkable insight to Cohen’s life and work. Below, you can listen to them both in full. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Note: A transcript of this broadcast is available at Transcript: 1988 RTE (LeonardCohenFiles)

The first programme ‘How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns’ is entitled ‘Isaac to Joan of Arc’ in which Cohen discusses his interest in and attitude to heroic figures in history. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Programme 2 is entitled ‘If I Have Been Untrue’  and considers songs about people in the street. (From Leonard Cohen talks to RTÉ in 1988)

Credit Due Department: Photo atop this post “Shure mikrofon 55S” by Holger.EllgaardOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Leonard Cohen, Thanks Again For The Tour, I Hope It Was Good For You, Too – The Encore Video


Leonard Cohen To World Tour Fans: “I Still Love You, Too”

For those desirous of commemorating the completion of the  Summer 2009 European leg of the Leonard Cohen World Tour, those anticipating the series of concerts in the USA that will conclude the World Tour, and those desperate for a Cohen fix during this Tour hiatus, Cohencentric offers a video celebration comprising photos and video clips associated with the performances, especially those from the past three months. The primary songs are Bird On The Wire and Closing Time.

Dear Leonard Cohen, Thanks – again – for The Tour; I hope it was good for you, too
Video by Allan Showalter

Note: Originally posted Oct 14, 2009 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen explains: “Songs are… hospitable to different interpretations”

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I like austerity. I like it as a style. It’s the opposite of abundance. ‘Bird on the Wire’ is quite an affirmative song. It has an anthem-like sound to it sometimes. I’ve found that songs are quite hospitable to different interpretations. When you’re on the road for a long period of time, you tend to sings songs in different ways. You can bring a certain kind of nobility to a depressed lyric, or you can deliver a very affirmative statement like a lamentation. I’ve found there’s a certain emptiness to my songs that allows for a lot of interpretations.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Conversations from a Room by Tom Chaffin. Canadian Forum: August/September 1983. Photo by Armando Fusco. Originally posted July 28, 2012 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“If the bird can get used to the wire, I told him, you can get used to the wire.” Marianne Ihlen On Why, Of All Leonard Cohen’s Songs, She Felt Closest To Bird On The Wire


I felt much more that Bird On A Wire [rather than So Long, Marianne] had something to do with me because I was there. I gave him [Leonard Cohen] the guitar. We looked out of the window. We saw the birds landing on the wires. And he had not been able to create or write or sing or do anything for weeks and he was in a very, very deep deep depression … Yeah, it’s one of my favorites, absolutely.quotedown2

Marianne Ihlen


From interviews conducted by Kari Hesthamar in 2005. See Hear Leonard Cohen And Marianne Ihlen Talk About Their Life Together

The following is from Judy Scott’s comment on the original post.

When I first visited with Marianne in 1973, she showed me Leonard’s studio and out the front window was the infamous “wire.” She told me this story: “when electricity finally came to Hydra, Leonard was not happy to see modernity arrive. He preferred the oil lamps and the candles we were used to. ‘Now we’ll have to find another place’ he said, and just then a bird landed on the wire. “If the bird can get used to the wire,” I told him, “you can get used to the wire.”

I love that story.

Video: Leonard Cohen – Bird On The Wire
Prague: July 21, 2013
Video by albertnoonan

Credit Due Department: Photo of Leonard Cohen’s home on Hydra by Marie-louise Guillard