“This is a monogamous song” Leonard Cohen describes I Tried To Leave You as a song in which lovers are “condemned to each other for eternity”

Malka Marom: In so much of your poetry and songs your lovers are forever parting.

Leonard Cohen: That’s true.

Malka Marom: Do you know why?

Leonard Cohen: I don’t remember the songs I wrote a long time ago. They are all saying goodbye.

Malka Marom: Well they are leaving each other.

Leonard Cohen: Well I have some here in which they are condemned to each other for eternity. On my new record, for instance, I have this sang that goes like this:

“I tried to leave you, I don’t deny
I closed the book on us, at least a hundred times.
I wake up every morning by your side.

The years go by, you lose your pride.
The baby is crying, so you do not go outside,
And all your work is right before your eyes.
Goodnight, my darling,
I hope you’re satisfied,

The bed is kind of narrow, but my arms are open wide.
And here’s a man still working for your smile.”

This is a monogamous song.

Malka Marom: You still use the word, “condemn.”

Leonard Cohen: Lovers condemned like mated beasts to the same cage with a long embrace and fighting over scraps of freedom. There is an aversion to the thing, which is very unattractive. I think anyone who has lived with anyone else knows what I mean.

Leonard Cohen CBC interview by Malka Marom (1970s).