Sisters Of Mercy

“I was alone [in Alberta – Ed] and I had nowhere to stay that evening. I went with them [two girls he met in a café – Ed] back to their room and we all slept together. When I awoke I wrote a song about them. I called it “Sisters of Mercy”.”Leonard Cohen (505)
“Then I was in Edmonton, which is one of our largest northern cities, and there was a snowstorm and I found myself in a vestibule with two young hitch-hiking women who didn’t have a place to stay. I invited them back to my little hotel room and there was a big double bed and they went to sleep in it immediately. They were exhausted by the storm and cold. And I sat in this stuffed chair inside the window beside the Saskatchewan River. And while they were sleeping I wrote the lyrics. And that never happened to me before. And I think it must be wonderful to be that kind of writer. It must be wonderful. Because I just wrote the lines with a few revisions and when they awakened I sang it to them. And it has never happened to me like that before. Or since.”Leonard Cohen (633)

Alexandra Leaving

“This is a homage to the great Greek poet Konstantin Kavafis.”Leonard Cohen (506)

The Story Of Isaac

“It has fathers and sons in it and sacrifice and slaughter, and an extremely honest statement at the end. [The lyric begins: “The door it opened slowly, my father he came in, I was nine years old.” – Ed] It does say something about fathers and sons and that curious place, generally over the slaughtering block where generations meet and have their intercourse. I think probably that I did feel [when I wrote it – Ed] that one of the reasons that we have wars was so the older men can kill off the younger ones, so there’s no competition for the women. Also, completely remove the competition in terms of their own institutional positions. The song doesn’t end with a plea for peace. It doesn’t end with a plea for sanity between the generations. It ends saying, “I’ll kill you if I can, I will help you if I must, I will kill you if I must, I will help you if I can.” That’s all I can say about it. My father died when I was nine, that’s the reason I put that one of us had to go.”Leonard Cohen (507)

Lover Lover Lover

“”Lover Lover Lover” was born there [the Yom Kippur War – Ed]. The whole world is watching this tragic and complex conflict. So I am faithful to certain ideas, inevitably. I hope that those I am in favor of will win.”Leonard Cohen (508)

By The Rivers Dark

“This is a reference to the Book of Psalms (Psalm 137): the children of Israel are in exile, their captors asked them to sing, but they refuse because they can not celebrate sacred songs in a foreign land. In the Psalm it is said: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my arm fall, my tongue cleave to my palate.” I took this idea of ​​applying Jerusalem to Babylon. This song is about reconciliation between the profane and the sacred.”Leonard Cohen (508)


“I know that there is an eye that watches all of us. There is a judgement that weighs everything we do. And before this great force, which is greater than any government, I stand in awe and I kneel in respect. And it is to this great judgement that I dedicate this song.”Leonard Cohen (509)

A Thousand Kisses Deep

“We don’t write the play, we don’t produce it, we don’t direct it, and we’re not even actors in it. Everybody eventually comes to the conclusion that things are not unfolding exactly the way they wanted, and that the whole enterprise has a basis that you can’t penetrate. Nevertheless, you live your life as if it’s real. But with the understanding: it’s only a thousand kisses deep, that is, with that deep intuitive understanding that this is unfolding according to a pattern that you simply cannot discern.”Leonard Cohen (521)

Waiting For The Miracle

“[There are] people who are bitten by this particular bug, where meaning has evaporated and significance has dissolved. Many people now confess to me that they inhabit this kind of landscape, where nothing has much taste. I mean, they’re not selling fifty million Prozac pills a week for nothing; we are undergoing some kind of nervous breakdown. And it’s from the point of view of the nervous breakdown and beyond that the song is written.”Leonard Cohen (522)