Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free
It’s as explicit as you can get. It mitigates a kind of arrogant human statement, which is ‘I’ve tried to be free’ – well everybody tries to be free. ‘In my way’ somewhat modifies and softens the idea, and also includes the possibility of failure. Because you say, you know, according to my own light and in my way I’ve tried, and I’ve messed it up like everybody else, but that was the effort.
From Harry Rasky’s 1979 book The Song of Leonard Cohen — Portrait of a Poet, a Friendship, and a Film, quoted in Behind The Song: Leonard Cohen, “Bird On A Wire” by Jim Beviglia. American Songwriter: July 25th, 2013. The complete, insightful article is available at the link.
Note: Originally posted July 25, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric