Sisters of Mercy

Album: Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
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Songfacts®:

  • Cohen penned this song as a tribute to two girls that he shared a hotel room with during a snowstorm in Edmonton, Canada. In the April 1993 issue of Song Talk, he explained: "That's the only song I wrote in one sitting. The melody I had worked on for some time. I didn't really know what the song was. I remember that my mother had liked it.

    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 hitchhiking 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."
  • This was used in the 1971 Robert Altman film McCabe & Mrs. Miller, along with two other songs from the same album, "Winter Lady" and "The Stranger Song."
  • The English Goth band The Sisters of Mercy took their name from this song partly because of its inclusion in McCabe & Mrs. Miller.
  • Former teen idol Dion covered this on his 1968 self-titled comeback album.

Comments: 2

  • TimPierre,
    I am pretty sure the bell like sound is a xylophone.
  • Pierre from BruxellesOn entend dans cette chanson un instrument de percussion, avec des clochettes, un grand mât avec des barres horizontales garnies de clochettes et qu'on frappait sur le sol à chaque pas lors des processions quand j'était petit (1960). Je cherche le nom de cet instrument.
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