NEW SKIN FOR THE OLD CEREMONY

August 1974




Click on the song title to see the lyrics, or just scroll down.

Click on the RealAudio or WAV button next to the song
title to hear a 30 second sound clip from the official
Sony site: www.leonardcohen.com.
Copyright © 1974 Sony Music Entertainment (Canada) Inc.


1. Is This What You Wanted? 4:13
2. Chelsea Hotel #2 3:02
3. Lover Lover Lover 3:17
4. Field Commander Cohen 4:02
5. Why Don't You Try 3:53
6. There is A War 3:01
7. A Singer Must Die 3:20
8. I Tried to Leave You 2:42
9. Who By Fire 2:29
10. Take This Longing 4:05
11. Leaving Green Sleeves 2:37


Total time 37:07. CBS 69087


Is This What You Wanted

You were the promise at dawn,
I was the morning after.
You were Jesus Christ my Lord,
I was the money lender.
You were the sensitive woman,
I was the very reverend Freud.
You were the manual orgasm,
I was the dirty little boy.

And is this what you wanted
to live in a house that is haunted
by the ghost of you and me?

Is this what you wanted ...

You were Marlon Brando,
I was Steve McQueen.
You were K.Y. Jelly,
I was Vaseline.
You were the father of modern medicine,
I was Mr. Clean.
You where the whore and the beast of Babylon,
I was Rin Tin Tin.

And is this what you wanted ...

And is this what you wanted ...

You got old and wrinkled,
I stayed seventeen.
You lusted after so many,
I lay here with one.
You defied your solitude,
I came through alone.
You said you could never love me,
I undid your gown.

And is this what you wanted ...

And is this what you wanted ...

I mean is this what you wanted ...

That's right, is this what you wanted ...


Chelsea Hotel #2

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.
Those were the reasons and that was New York,
we were running for the money and the flesh.
And that was called love for the workers in song
probably still is for those of them left.

Ah but you got away, didn't you babe,
you just turned your back on the crowd,
you got away, I never once heard you say,
I need you, I don't need you,
I need you, I don't need you
and all of that jiving around.

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
you were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you preferred handsome men
but for me you would make an exception.
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said, "Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music."

And then you got away, didn't you babe...

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.

Click here to read a story about The Chelsea Hotel by Christof Graf,
and to check the lyrics of Chelsea Hotel # 1!


Lover Lover Lover

I asked my father,
I said, "Father change my name."
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame.

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me,
yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

He said, "I locked you in this body,
I meant it as a kind of trial.
You can use it for a weapon,
or to make some woman smile."

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me
yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

"Then let me start again," I cried,
"please let me start again,
I want a face that's fair this time,
I want a spirit that is calm."

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me
yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

"I never never turned aside," he said,
"I never walked away.
It was you who built the temple,
it was you who covered up my face."

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me
yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

And may the spirit of this song,
may it rise up pure and free.
May it be a shield for you,
a shield against the enemy.

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me
yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me
yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.


Field Commander Cohen

Field Commander Cohen, he was our most important spy.
Wounded in the line of duty,
parachuting acid into diplomatic cocktail parties,
urging Fidel Castro to abandon fields and castles.
Leave it all and like a man,
come back to nothing special,
such as waiting rooms and ticket lines,
silver bullet suicides,
and messianic ocean tides,
and racial roller-coaster rides
and other forms of boredom advertised as poetry.

I know you need your sleep now,
I know your life's been hard.
But many men are falling,
where you promised to stand guard.

I never asked but I heard you cast your lot along with the poor.
But then I overheard your prayer,
that you be this and nothing more
than just some grateful faithful woman's favourite singing millionaire,
the patron Saint of envy and the grocer of despair,
working for the Yankee Dollar.

I know you need your sleep now ...

Ah, lover come and lie with me, if my lover is who you are,
and be your sweetest self awhile until I ask for more, my child.
Then let the other selves be rung, yeah, let them manifest and come
till every taste is on the tongue,
till love is pierced and love is hung,
and every kind of freedom done, then oh,
oh my love, oh my love, oh my love,
oh my love, oh my love, oh my love.


Why Don't You Try

Why don't you try to do without him?
Why don't you try to live alone?
Do you really need his hands for your passion?
Do you really need his heart for your throne?
Do you need his labour for your baby?
Do you need his beast for the bone?
Do you need to hold a leash to be a lady?
I know you're going to make, make it on your own.

Why don't your try to forget him?
Just open up your dainty little hand.
You know this life is filled with many sweet companions,
many satisfying one-night stands.
Do you want to be the ditch around a tower?
Do you want to be the moonlight in his cave?
Do you want to give your blessing to his power
as he goes whistling past his daddy, past his daddy's grave.

I'd like to take you take you to the ceremony,
well, that is if I remember the way.
You see Jack and Jill they're going to join their misery,
I'm afraid it's time for everyone to pray.
You can see they've finally taken cover,
they're willing, yeah they're willing to obey.
Their vows are difficult, they're for each other,
so let nobody put a loophole, a loophole in their way.


There is a War

There is a war between the rich and poor,
a war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the ones who say there is a war
and the ones who say there isn't.

Why don't you come on back to the war, that's right, get in it,
why don't you come on back to the war, it's just beginning.

Well I live here with a woman and a child,
the situation makes me kind of nervous.
Yes, I rise up from her arms, she says "I guess you call this love";
I call it service.

Why don't you come on back to the war, don't be a tourist,
why don't you come on back to the war, before it hurts us,
why don't you come on back to the war, let's all get nervous.

You cannot stand what I've become,
you much prefer the gentleman I was before.
I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control,
I didn't even know there was a war.

Why don't you come on back to the war, don't be embarrassed,
why don't you come on back to the war, you can still get married.

There is a war between the rich and poor,
a war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the left and right,
a war between the black and white,
a war between the odd and the even.

Why don't you come on back to the war, pick up your tiny burden,
why don't you come on back to the war, let's all get even,
why don't you come on back to the war, can't you hear me speaking?


A Singer Must Die

Now the courtroom is quiet, but who will confess.
Is it true you betrayed us? The answer is Yes.
Then read me the list of the crimes that are mine,
I will ask for the mercy that you love to decline.
And all the ladies go moist, and the judge has no choice,
a singer must die for the lie in his voice.

And I thank you, I thank you for doing your duty,
you keepers of truth, you guardians of beauty.
Your vision is right, my vision is wrong,
I'm sorry for smudging the air with my song.

Oh, the night it is thick, my defences are hid
in the clothes of a woman I would like to forgive,
in the rings of her silk, in the hinge of her thighs,
where I have to go begging in beauty's disguise.
Oh goodnight, goodnight, my night after night,
my night after night, after night, after night, after night, after night.

I am so afraid that I listen to you,
your sun glassed protectors they do that to you.
It's their ways to detain, their ways to disgrace,
their knee in your balls and their fist in your face.
Yes and long live the state by whoever it's made,
sir, I didn't see nothing, I was just getting home late.


I Tried To Leave You

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

The years go by, you lose your pride.
The baby's crying, so you do not go outside,
and all your work it's 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.


Who By Fire

And who by fire, who by water,
who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
who in your merry merry month of may,
who by very slow decay,
and who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate,
who in these realms of love, who by something blunt,
and who by avalanche, who by powder,
who for his greed, who for his hunger,
and who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident,
who in solitude, who in this mirror,
who by his lady's command, who by his own hand,
who in mortal chains, who in power,
and who shall I say is calling?


Take This Longing

Many men have loved the bells
you fastened to the rein,
and everyone who wanted you
they found what they will always want again.
Your beauty lost to you yourself
just as it was lost to them.

Oh take this longing from my tongue,
whatever useless things these hands have done.
Let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love.

Your body like a searchlight
my poverty revealed,
I would like to try your charity
until you cry, "Now you must try my greed."
And everything depends upon
how near you sleep to me

Just take this longing from my tongue
all the lonely things my hands have done.
Let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love.

Hungry as an archway
through which the troops have passed,
I stand in ruins behind you,
with your winter clothes, your broken sandal straps.
I love to see you naked over there
especially from the back.

Oh take this longing from my tongue,
all the useless things my hands have done,
untie for me your hired blue gown,
like you would do for one that you love.

You're faithful to the better man,
I'm afraid that he left.
So let me judge your love affair
in this very room where I have sentenced
mine to death.
I'll even wear these old laurel leaves
that he's shaken from his head.

Just take this longing from my tongue,
all the useless things my hands have done,
let me see your beauty broken down,
like you would do for one you love.

Like you would do for one you love.


Leaving Green Sleeves

Alas, my love, you did me wrong,
to cast me out discourteously,
for I have loved you so long,
delighting in your very company.
Now if you intend to show me disdain,
don't you know it all the more enraptures me,
for even so I still remain your lover in captivity.

Green sleeves, you're all alone,
the leaves have fallen, the men have gone.
Green sleeves, there's no one home,
not even the Lady Green Sleeves

I sang my songs, I told my lies,
to lie between your matchless thighs.
And ain't it fine, ain't it wild
to finally end our exercise
Then I saw you naked in the early dawn,
oh, I hoped you would be someone new.
I reached for you but you were gone,
so lady I'm going too.

Green sleeves, you're all alone ...

Green sleeves, you're all alone,
the leaves have fallen, the men have all gone home.
Green sleeves, it's so easily done,
leaving the Lady Green Sleeves.



Copyright © 1974 Leonard Cohen
and Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada Company




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