The inclusion of Leonard Cohen’s Bird On The Wire on the soundtrack of the recently released Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie has prompted the republication of this 2007 1HeckOfAGuy.com post about the Bird On The Wire soliloquy from the Absolutely Fabulous TV series.
Featuring Edina As The Drunk In A Midnight Choir – And Wherever
In yesterday’s post, Leonard Cohen BBC Interview: “I’d like to go out [on tour] again”, the BBC interviewer alluded to the use of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire”1 in an episode of the British sitcom, Absolutely Fabulous. And, it turns out that, although “Bird On The Wire” has been covered by everybody from Joe Cocker to Jennifer Warnes to The Bobs, the Ab Fab version is, I believe, uniquely memorable.
The Scene: Absolutely Fabulous – Bird On A Wire
Jealous: Series 3, Episode 4 (First broadcast 27 April 1995)
Edina (AKA Eddie, AKA Eddy), has expectations of winning the PR Person of the Year Award over her rival, Claudia Bing, but, despite rigging the vote, loses instead and wants revenge. Later, at an industry luncheon, Edina loses her prepared remarks but proceeds unabated to give a drunken speech, one portion of which consists of the lyrics of “Bird On A Wire.”
The Dialog: Absolutely Fabulous – Bird On A Wire
From IDMB (with “Bird On A Wire” lyrics placed in bold by me):
[Edina (Eddie) has lost her speech which she has to present to the PR meeting]
Eddie: Yeah I was gonna’ make a-
Eddie: Testing. Testing. -Yeah I was gonna’ make a speech, but I just can’t be bothered anymore. I mean, this used to be like fun you know; yeah it used to be fun, but I’m getting bored of all the ‘fun’ bits now. You know, your endless bloody lunches and launches, you know, no-career celebrities and party desperates. And what for, huh? Some colony of crap tags and mags! Well I’m sorry there has to be a little more than that doesn’t there?
[slams her handbag down]
Eddie: Hmmm? You know I had a speech, you know, my… my integrated-projected-global-tele-network system bloody system-system. But you know, if that’s what the worlds coming to I don’t want to be in it. No I don’t want that. I don’t want to be in some sort of cyber-space-hypervirtual bloody reality. I don’t want that- exchanging e-mails with some old age bloody hippies with more information at their fingertips than is safe to know about. I don’t want that! What kind of reality is that, huh, you know, with a thirteen-amp plug on the end of it? Huh? Huh?… That can be un-plugged like that? Come-on I’m going.
[She turns to leave, but… ]
Eddie: No I’m not going yet! No, you!
[points to her competition, Claudia Bing]
Eddie: You, you, just sit there like your velcroed to some bloody add-man! You know those crap-head add-men over there, you know, those kings of bastardization that have just taken everything that was ever real and genuine and honest and original and attached it to a toilet cleaner! Whereas I, I… Like a bird on a wire… Like a drunk in a midnight choir… I have tried in my way to be free.
[Then she sings]
Eddie: Like a bird, on a wire.
Patsy: Go for it Eddy.
Eddie: [singing] … Like a drunk in a midnight choir. I have tried in my way to be free.
[Claudia Bing and her colleagues are laughing]
Eddie: Yeah you can laugh, but you know something- I don’t want more choice I just want nicer things! And you, you can take that look off your face, sitting there with your… with your wheels and AIDS and starvation. You know, skimming a neat profit of the whole of human misery. Labeling us all with this- with this global guilt. Well it may not be all great and good but it ain’t that bad, so cheer up world it may never bloody happen!
[slams her bag down again]
Eddie: Come on I’m going.
[Edina walks off making rude farting sounds at everyone in the room]
Audio Only: Absolutely Fabulous – Bird On A Wire
Edina – “Bird On A Wire”
Spoken word portion
Edina – “Bird On A Wire”
Video: Absolutely Fabulous – Bird On A Wire
This clip (may not be available in all countries) comprises the final third of Absolutely Fabulous Series 3, Episode 4: Jealous (First broadcast 27 April 1995). The pertinent portion begins at 4:35
Note: Originally posted July 17, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
- Yes, I know that the name of the song on Leonard Cohen’s Songs From A Room album is “Bird On The Wire.” In the Ab Fab episode, it’s “Bird On A Wire” – as it is in The Essential Leonard Cohen album. [↩]