Cohen's version is sung from the perspective of a man discussing with another man a woman they both had a relationship with. Many female artists have managed to flip the gender and make the song even more ambiguous. Joan Baez, Tori Amos, Laurie MacAllister and Jennifer Warnes are some of the artists who have covered this song. In 1987, Warnes released an entire album of Cohen's songs called Famous Blue Raincoat
before contributing to the hit "(I've Had) The Time of My Life
" later that year.
Cohen said in a 1993 issue of Song Talk
: "I thought that Jennifer Warnes' version in a sense was better because I worked on a different version for her, and I thought it was somewhat more coherent. But I always thought that that was a song you could see the carpentry in a bit. Although there are some images in it that I am very pleased with. And the tune is real good. But I'm willing to defend it, saying it was impressionistic. It's stylistically coherent. And I can defend it if I have to. But secretly I always felt that there was a certain incoherence that prevented it from being a great song."
Jennifer Warnes was a back-up singer for Cohen in the early '70s and is partially credited for bringing Cohen back into popularity in the '80s before the release of his comeback album I'm Your Man