“My fish will be tamed in the bathtub at the Pentahotel.” Leonard Cohen’s “Rebellious Thoughts” Intro To Chelsea Hotel #2 – Wiesbaden 1985

madrid-1985-various-positons-photo-by-daniel-bastida

The young woman in that elevator was Janis Joplin, and the young man was Leonard Cohen, an unlikely combination. However, out of that grotesque union, came this song.

Chelsea Hotel #2 Introduction: Wiesbaden – Feb 2, 1985

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It was a long time ago, in an elevator, in the Chelsea Hotel, that I wrote this song. Oh that was a lovely elevator. God! If I could only ride up and down up and down in that elevator all my life. I think I am riding up and down all my life. They’re such pretty buttons. You could reach everyone of them. You didn’t have to be a giant. You just had to be ordinary human-sized. There they were, 1 2 3 4 5 6, these buttons. Where is the elevator and these buttons? They would take me to the delights that I so richly deserved. The Pentahotel. It’s not that bad you know. It’s a good hotel. It has a very deep bathtub. I brought my fish. At this very moment my fish is sporting itself in the bathtub at the Pentahotel. There’s a lot of space for my fish. My fish is sad. It deserves the ocean it believes. My fish is full of anxiety and ambition for the ocean. I will have to tame my fish. My fish will be tamed in the bathtub at the Pentahotel. It is not the only hotel. My fish does not ride in the elevator. My fish travels through windows. My fish is a liar. I have no fish. I lied to you about my fish. My fish is a dog. He lives with an old woman. Back to the Chelsea Hotel and the elevator in the Chelsea Hotel before I was so rudely interrupted by my rebellious thoughts. I believe I lived there once. I was a young singer trying to make it in New York. I was eating amphetamine and I was a hundred and nineteen pounds, of fury. It was late one night. I think it was a Tuesday, but I may be wrong about that. If there are any historians here, don’t hold me to the fact. I have a certain poetic license. Maybe it was Thursday. What the hell, we’re all friends. Let’s say it was a Thursday night. There were no buttons in the elevator, I lied about that too. It worked on a kind of ESP, you kind of willed yourself to the floor that you lived on. I’m sorry for going on about it now like this. I’m just an old man with an electric guitar. You know how that leads you into all kinds of disasters and predicaments. One night I met a very lovely young woman in that elevator. She was dressed in leather and feather and fringes. It was the style of the time. In those days they hadn’t heard about black. One thing led to another. I knew she was hungry. I could tell by her fringes. She was looking for Kris Kristofferson. A name we rarely hear these days. But my name is not that prominent either, so what have I got to complain about. And I was looking for Brigitte Bardot, but she was already establishing that intimate relationship with the seal that excluded all other human companionship. I didn’t know at that time. I pressed on and on. Forever the optimist. Anyhow the young woman in that elevator was Janis Joplin, and the young man was Leonard Cohen, an unlikely combination. However, out of that grotesque union, came this song.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen Prologues. Photo by Daniel Bastida.

Leonard Cohen September 25, 2010 Lille Concert – Videos, Photos, Review

On With The Show

Leonard Cohen’s concert in Lille, France generated outstanding photos, videos, and reviews. (Update: more videos & photos from this show are online at 2010 Leonard Cohen Lille Concert Redux – New Photos, Videos Plus “When Leonard Met Ruth”)

A Songwriter Of Supreme Elegance

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2010 Leonard Cohen Lille Concert Redux – New Photos, Videos Plus “When Leonard Met Ruth”

Quality videos by messalina79 aka Ruth Pietroni and photos by Ros Pan from the Sept 25, 2010 Leonard Cohen Lille Concert (see previously posted Leonard Cohen September 25, 2010 Lille Concert – Videos, Photos, Review) have become available. Enjoy.

Leonard Cohen – Chelsea Hotel #2
Lille: Sept 25, 2010
Video from messalina79

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“I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best” Leonard Cohen Talks About That Line From Chelsea Hotel #2

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Leonard Cohen Explains “I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best”

Because time also is a degree in the estimation of love

Leonard Cohen

The quotation is part of Leonard Cohen’s discussion of the nature of the his relationship with Janis Joplin portrayed in his song, “Chelsea Hotel #2.” The interview is found in “The Song Of Leonard Cohen” by Harry Rasky (1979).

That key line from the final version of Chelsea Hotel, “I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best,” and, indeed, the entire final verse on which the sense of the song turns, is absent from Chelsea Hotel #1.

I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best,
I can’t keep track of each fallen robin.
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
that’s all, I don’t even think of you that often.

In contradistinction to the confession, “I don’t even think of you that often,”  the final verse of Chelsea Hotel #1, as it was played by Cohen in Tel Aviv in 1972,1 is a reluctant leave-taking:

Making your sweet little sound, I can hear you now
So, into the jukebox [?], choose your records
Listen all night now
Making your sweet little sound, baby,

Making your sweet little sound on the jukebox.
Guess I got nothing more to say to you, baby
I mean – so long, gotta leave you,
Little sound

This is in keeping with my contention, previously presented at Video: Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1 (Tel Aviv 1972), that Chelsea Hotel #1 is thematically a much different song than Chelsea Hotel #2:

Chelsea Hotel #1  focuses on the death of the singer’s (i.e., Leonard Cohen’s) lover (i.e., Janis Joplin), with whom the singer identifies primarily  as an admired fellow artist and colleague and only secondarily as an object of affection or, at least, of reciprocated lust.  In Chelsea Hotel #2, the situation is reversed with the key issue becoming the  singer’s unambiguous  examination of his own feelings for and perception of the woman at the Chelsea Hotel – even if doing so results in an ignoble self-characterization.

Chelsea Hotel #2, in fact, aligns well with other Leonard Cohen songs that mark the end of  a romance, such as So Long, Marianne and Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye, with unflinching observations on the psychological factors causing him to flee the relationship.

But in comparing Chelsea Hotel #1 and Chelsea Hotel #2, the kicker is that Cohen is kinder to and much more sentimental about the Janis Joplin of Chelsea Hotel #1, a singer “making a sweet little sound,” than he is to the Janis Joplin of Chelsea Hotel #2, a lover who affectionately jokes with Cohen (“You told me again you preferred handsome men/but for me you would make an exception”).  He is also – and, not incidentally – far less protective of himself in the second version.

Leonard Cohen On Chelsea Hotel #2 (1979)
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Chelsea Hotel #1

The video of Chelsea Hotel #1 and an earlier discussion of the differences between the two versions of Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel song can be found at Video: Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1 (Tel Aviv 1972)

Also See “I remember you well at the Chelsea Hotel / That’s all. I don’t think of you that often” Leonard Cohen Talks About The Final Lines Of Chelsea Hotel #2

Photo of Janis Joplin by Columbia Records (Billboard page 5) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Leonard Cohen by Peter Brosseau/Library and Archives Canada/PA-170174. Originally posted Aug 16, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. There is no standard version of Chelsea Hotel #1.  Leonard Cohen repeatedly changed the lyrics and rearranged the order of the verses in performances. []

Leonard Cohen Performs Chelsea Hotel #2 + “Dreaded Feedback” – Bonn 1980

“Noise infiltrates the divine realm of music. Dreaded feedback rears its ugly head… Science has gone bad. The computers have betrayed us. There is no justice at the Xerox headquarters…”

Xerox Tower

As far as I can determine, no recording of the Nov 4, 1980 Leonard Cohen concert at the Beethovenhalle in Bonn, Germany has been available online – until now. A tape of one hour of the show has emerged, thanks to the generosity of a friend from Bonn, who recorded this song and 11 others with the permission of Leonard Cohen and his sound engineer. (The other songs will be posted soon; all recordings from this show are collected at .)

This (audio-only) video opens with Leonard taking notice of “dreaded feedback” from the microphone and extemporizing on the subject before breaking into Chelsea Hotel #2.

Credit Due Department: Photo of Leonard Cohen performing in 1980 (Amsterdam) by Pete Purnell. Xerox Tower photo by DanielPenfield – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Leonard Cohen Explains Why There Are Two Limos In Chelsea Hotel #2

Why are there two limos [in Chelsea Hotel #2]?

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One for each of us. We’re both waiting to leave. We’re both killing time or something.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

From Having Lunch With Leonard Cohen by Jon Wilde, Sabotage Times. Dec 3, 2015 (the quote itself is taken from a 1988 interview).

Video: Leonard Cohen Talks About, Performs Chelsea Hotel #2 – 1979

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
You were talking so brave and so sweet
Giving me head on the unmade bed
While the limousines wait in the street

Leonard Cohen Talks About, Performs Chelsea Hotel #2
From Song Of Leonard Cohen by Harry Rasky
Video from messalina79

Note: Originally posted September 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“I remember you well at the Chelsea Hotel / That’s all. I don’t think of you that often” Leonard Cohen Talks About The Final Lines Of Chelsea Hotel #2

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The last line seems like a slap in the face: ‘I remember you well at the Chelsea Hotel / That’s all. I don’t think of you that often.’

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I don’t know why the truth compelled me to be so ungraceful or ungracious or even ungrateful in that final moment, but I guess that is the way it came out. I didn’t want it to be just one of those elegies; I thought it deserved the truth.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

 

Note: This comment by Leonard Cohen supports the contention that, thematically, the earlier versions of Chelsea Hotel (aka Chelsea Hotel #1) is elegiac while Chelsea Hotel #2 focuses on Leonard’s own feelings for and perception of the woman at the Chelsea Hotel – even if doing so results in an ignoble self-characterization. See Video: Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1 (Tel Aviv 1972)

Update: For more discussion of the significance of the differences between Chelsea Hotel #1 and Chelsea Hotel #2, including a video interview with Leonard Cohen addressing his relationship with Janis Joplin as portrayed in the songs, see “I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best” Leonard Cohen Talks About That Line From Chelsea Hotel #2.

From Sincerely, L. Cohen by Brian Cullman (Details for Men, January, 1993). Photo of Janis Joplin by Columbia Records (Billboard page 5) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Leonard Cohen by Peter Brosseau/Library and Archives Canada/PA-170174. Originally posted October 17, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric