Sisters of Mercy

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Leonard Cohen passed away just a month ago. Those were sad news added to many other sad news we have had along the year and to the destabilizing results of the last USA elections. I wanted to honor him with a brief post right away after his death, but as Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” and for several unnamed reasons I was caught in a dumb mood, unable to do anything but wandering all around from one place to another. But it’s time now to tell something about and I don’t want to miss the chance, so here they come a few words in memory of the great singer/songwriter, meaningful visionary of the last century. I believe Leonard Cohen was the sweetest deeper songwriter of the popular music. Bob Dylan might have been the greatest storyteller of Rock’n’Roll, maybe even the most striking of the lyricists, but the greatest poet beside him, only one who could have shadowed Dylan once in a while, will always be Leonard.

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From “Songs of Leonard Cohen” album I choose “Sisters of Mercy” as one of the most representative songs of what I consider the magic and mystery behind Cohen’s lyrics, spreaded through his voice and intoxicating music. It was used as part of the soundtrack in the 1971 Robert Altman film “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.” This is a live version of the song:

Sisters of Mercy

Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on.
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
Oh yes I hope you run into them, you who’ve been travelling so long.

Yeah you who must leave everything that you cannot control.
It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul.
Well I’ve been where you’re hanging, and I think I can see how you’re pinned:
When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness tells that you’ve sinned.

Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to them.
They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
Oh they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.

When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them pretty soon.
Don’t turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.
And you won’t make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night:
Ahh we weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right.

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Leonard Cohen himself has told many times the story about the two girls who inspired him this song. Rolling Stone magazine website published this article: “Watch Leonard Cohen Read Surreal Poem in Animated Interview” including the video in which the singer-songwriter reads his surreal poem “Two Went to Sleep” and tells the bizarre origins of the folk classic “Sisters of Mercy.”

Here is a link to the story Roz Warren wrote many years later, oddly talking about a similar encounter to the one described in the song she and her friend had with the artist in 1975: My Night With Leonard Cohen.”

Another Cohen’s song I wanted to mention is “Leonard Cohen’s Elegy For Janis Joplin – Chelsea Hotel #1” since it contributed to the legend of the famous Chelsea Hotel in New York. The song, later to become “Chelsea Hotel #2,” was dedicated to Janis Joplin. It was written at the hotel after the affair they had when they met each other in the elevator, according to Leonard Cohen. Later at some point he declared that he ever regretted to have exposed the name of her related to that song.

Leonard Cohen Performs At Leeds Arena

Many artists, musicians and writers visiting the hotel made of it a cultural and artistic center of the bohemian world in New York. Regarding the Chelsea Hotel, also Bob Dylan wrote some revealing lines on “Sara,” the last song of his “Desire” album. This is what the lyrics said:

I can still hear the sounds of those Methodist bells
I’d taken the cure and had just gotten through
Stayin’ up for days in the Chelsea Hotel
Writin’ “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” for you.

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Smoking A Cigarette in 1980

To finish up this remembrance of the incredible Leonard Cohen, I didn’t want to leave out this unforgettable speech he gave at the Principe De Asturias Awards ceremony (Prince of Asturias Awards,) so here it comes for all of you to watch and listen to:

50 thoughts on “Sisters of Mercy

  1. Beautiful post on the one of the most unique and irreplaceable musicians of all times, it’s been an honour to live in Mr. Cohen’s time, I do not mean to sound negative but this world is certainly going to miss this deep, smokey voice that touched our souls so deeply. I published my new post yesterday – without having look on yours – but it seems our posts have the same conlclusion ‘The Artist Is Not Made For Defeat’ – it is made for the everlasting life, that is the life in the hearts of people who love Art. The new generations will come and that love will always be there. Thank you so much dear Louis for this wonderful tribute!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautifully written tribute! I especially enjoyed the clip at the end, his story captured my heart and I believe I have just become a fan…I loved what he said about the place from which poetry comes. I’ve often though the same thing…

    As well, thank you for visiting and following my blog. I look forward to reading and listening to much more here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hola, mi Español Calabaza. Cómo estás?
    What a well written intriguing post. You never cease to amaze and that video was quite the astounding perfect ending to the post.
    I enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You know I always love your work. As a old soul I enjoy learning and experiencing the history of those in music and movies. By the way your work previous and or new, people will continue to love it because of that sexy Latino Charm. Haha 🙂 and because of your sweet heart. By the way it is the holidays So make sure your lady keeps you hidden, someone might make a pumpkin pie out of you, you’re sweet. Lol 🙂 and by the way I am writing you a birthday gift and Christmas gift. When they are done I will email you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re always so kind to me! Thanks a lot for your great compliments, sweet Mo. But I don’t think my lady needs to keep me hidden, since I only have eyes for her 🙂 And I feel so grateful you’re thinking of me and will have a Birthday and a Christmas gift for me. You’re such a beautiful soul! Endless blessings to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. De nada,
        You don’t have to thank me. I don’t mind i love giving it is just how I am. And thank you blessings and hugs to you my friend

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you pumpkin. Now I am going to watch the blog the original one. Oh how I love these classic movies. They make feel happy and I think I am addicted to them hahaha. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Haha, that is so true about me. I do tend to things and people with every but of me. I am also glad I am not the only person like that.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. There was a man who got married and took his wife to japan for the honeymoon. 20 years later he was at work and a co-worker asked him “where did you take your wife for your honeymoon”? The man said “Japan”, the co- worker then asked “well what are you going to do for your anniversary this year”? The man said “Go back and get her.”

        Liked by 2 people

      7. I would agree, it helps to make life better. you can’t be serious all the time you’ll never enjoy yourself. Sometimes laughter is what you need to heal inside

        Liked by 1 person

  4.   Feliz cumpleaños. 🎂Tu presencia en mi vida es un regalo. Tienes un corazón lleno de amor que se puede sentir en todo el mundo. Te agradezco por tu amor y amabilidad. Increíblemente dulce y fuerte eres un regalo raro en este mundo. Eres una magnífica obra de arte de la fortaleza de la fortaleza amor. Sin ti mi corazón se rompería Te adoro. Eres un amigo increíble, que seas bendito y feliz siempre. Mucho amor a ti  
    Have a great birthday my friend

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sentí su fallecimiento. ¡ Tantos años enamorada de sus canciones!. Y aunque las canciones quedan y su extraordinaria y varonil voz, me hubiese gustado que se hubiese quedado él por más tiempo entre nosotros.
    Siempre he dicho que la mejor canción de amor es : I’m your man. Y lo seguiré diciendo. Es tan…….como yo lo entiendo. Es maravillosa.
    Su discurso en el Príncipe de Asturias fue absolutamente conmovedor.
    Conservaré sus CD con grandísimo cariño.
    Me encantó tu post.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hay personajes (escritores, pintores, cantantes, actores) que me gustan sus obras pero me repelen sus vidas. Leonard, al contrario, me gustaba tanto su obra como lo que conozco de su vida, por lo que me gustaba doblemente. No tenía que separar una cosa de la otra. Quizá por eso lo apreciaba mucho más que a muchos otros.
        Tu homenaje me ha gustado mucho.

        Liked by 1 person

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