Leonard Cohen talks about the opening verse of “Bird On The Wire”

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

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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.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

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

Leonard Cohen Video: Bird On The Wire Ft Mitch Watkins & Neil Larsen – NYC 2012

birdnyThis video, featuring a heartfelt performance by Leonard Cohen and impressive solos by Mitch Watkins on guitar & Neil Larsen on the Hammond B-3 Organ, is flawed only by the inordinate number of audience members standing and walking about. Where are these folks going in the middle of a song?

Leonard Cohen – Bird On The Wire
Madison Square Garden: Dec 18, 2012
Video: coneyislandgirl930

Note: Originally posted Dec 19, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Kris Kristofferson’s Epitaph From Leonard Cohen’s Bird On The Wire

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‘Like a bird on a wire,
Like a drunk in some midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free’

…. That’s my epitaph

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Kris Kristofferson

 

From Take This Waltz: A Celebration of Leonard Cohen, Edited by Michael Fournier and Ken Norris (The Muses Company, Quebec, Canada: 1994). Photo by Ron Baker (Kingsnake) – Cropped from the original, SXSW 2006 – Kris Kristofferson – Austin Music Awards, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia. Originally posted Nov 8, 2008 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Tom Cochrane’s Cover Of “Bird On A Wire” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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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 Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

Tom Cochrane’s Grand Bird On A Wire

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From CBC Radio Morningside with Peter Gzowski (Nov 18, 1992):

Peter Gzowski: Tom Cochrane has a beautiful  Bird On A Wire
Leonard Cohen: I know he does. It’s grand.

Tom Cochrane, is a Canadian singer-songwriter who fronted Red Rider as well as establishing a successful solo career, winning seven Juno Awards. He is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and was inducted onto the Canadian Walk of Fame in 2009. Tom Cochrane and Red Rider released their cover of Bird On A Wire on The Symphony Sessions album (1989).

Credit Due Department: Tom Cochrane photo by Scott Penner

Note: Originally posted Nov 7, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Video: A Soulful “Bird On The Wire” By Leonard Cohen – Bratislava 2010

birdbatsFeaturing Solos By Bob Metzger & Dino Soldo

Leonard Cohen – Bird  On The Wire
Bratislava: Oct 13, 2010
Video by albertnoonan

Note: Originally posted Oct 17, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

The Best Of The 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour: Bird On The Wire

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The Best Of The 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour

Cohencentric is featuring the Best of the 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour. Today’s offering is the Oct 22, 2009 performance of “Bird On The Wire” at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia.

Leonard Cohen – Bird On The Wire  (October 22, 2009)

While Leonard Cohen was a remarkably consistent performer throughout the 2008-2010 World Tour, “Bird On The Wire” is one of his songs that did seem to vary in caliber from one concert to the next. My sense is that the difference in quality is a function of Cohen’s timing. I once listened to a recording of several takes of the same song during a Sinatra rehearsal and was struck by the impact that barely perceptible fluctuations in his timing had on his work. I think that principle may also hold true for Cohen’s “Bird On The Wire.” Hitting the phrases a fraction of a moment too late or too early would diminish the song.

Regardless, the performance of “Bird On The Wire” from the Oct 22, 2009 Philadelphia concert strikes me as precisely on the mark.

The video also features exemplary solos by Bob Metzger on guitar and Dino Soldo on saxophone, but it is clear that those efforts are an extra, a delectable bonus that is attendant upon the essence of the song provided by Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen – Bird On The Wire
Tower Theatre, Philadelphia: Oct 22, 2009
Video by sturgess66

Note: Originally posted June 19, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Tim Hardin’s Cover Of “Bird On A Wire” Is On Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox

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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 Original Leonard Cohen’s Jukebox Page.

tim-hardin-at-wow-hall-in-Eugene---shortly-before-death

Tim Hardin – Taken in Eugene’s WOW Hall 1980

Gzowski[The recording of Bird On A Wire to be played next] isn’t the best version and neither is yours.

Leonard Cohen: That’s right

Gzowski: Whose is?

Leonard CohenTim Hardin’s is pretty good. … Tim Hardin did a very beautiful version of it. … Shortly before he died, he did that

Gzowski: … He used to be one of my favorites … He was drugged up all the time

Leonard Cohen: Yeah, I met him shortly before he died. He was all bloated up and swollen. I did get a chance to tell him how much I loved his songs.

– From the Nov 18, 1992 CBC Radio Morningside interview with Peter Gzowski

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The Tim Hardin Photo

The photo of Tim Hardin was taken by Joel Davis aka BuckarooBob on on Flickr, who writes

It was the WOW (Workers of the World) hall in the Eugene, a town both Tim Hardin and I considered home. From the stage, he joked about the photographer in the pit and some of the social purists in the crowd began to boo my presence…apparently feeling that photography would infringe upon their enjoyment of the music. “Why would you booo the photographer?” Hardin asked, “he’s just working hard, doing his job.” I’d liked him before, I loved him now. Yeh. Yeh, boo birds.

So it was with sadness that I learned he died shortly after that show, in Los Angeles, California of a heroin and morphine overdose. Hardin’s songs are classics, “If I were a Carpenter”, “Reason to Believe”, “Red Balloon”, “Black Sheep Boy”, many gaining their greatest success when covered by other artists. Ironically, Hardin’s biggest hit may have been his own cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire.”

From Joel’s description and Leonard Cohen’s account of meeting Hardin, it seems that the two events took place with the same time period shortly before Tim Hardin’s death and that this photo of Hardin is a close approximation of his appearance when he and Cohen met.

Tim Hardin – Bird On A Wire

Note: Originally posted July 4, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentrich

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Gripping Performance Of Bird On The Wire – Adelaide 2010

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Featuring Bob Metzger On Guitar And Dino Soldo On Saxophone

Leonard Cohen – Bird On The Wire
Adelaide: Nov 18, 2010
Video by alanm5049

Note: Originally posted Nov 20, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric