Chelsea Hotel #2

Album: New Skin For The Old Ceremony (1974)
  • 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.

Comments: 6

  • Pjironed from Dublin, IrelandI saw a video of Lenny on stage before starting this song and he told of his meeting of Joplin. Which was basically:
    "I was standing in the lift and as the door was closing somebody jumped in saying they were actually hoping it was Kris Kristofferson in the lift. I replied (in a deep voice) "Hello little lady""
    I think it was the BBC "I'm Your Man" documentary

    It is also the same hotel that Joni Mitchell san about in "Chelsea Morning" which the Clinton's named their daughter after
  • Michelle from Seattle, WaI think the last line in the song ('I don't think of you that often) is brilliant. It's not depressing, it's simply honest. Cohen quotes 'Janis' as saying that she normally goes for handsome men but for him, she'll make an exception. You can just hear that conversation ('we have to stand up for the HOMELY rock stars of the world!!! Unzip your pants!') echoing thru the halls of that seedy hotel. Limo idling out front. The song is nostalgic without being moribund, touching without being saccharine.
  • David from Houston, TxCraig, I agree with your assertion that Cohen blends hopelessness with cynicism, as is often the case with intuitive lyricists and poets such as he. But I caution against use of the word depressing. He're a telling quote from the equally talented Townes van Zandt when asked why his lyrics are depressing: "Well, many of the songs, they aren't sad, they're hopeless." I believe that great lyricists just as great historians excel in intuition. Above all else Cohen, despite his fluent use of allusion, is fundamentally honest in his descriptions of life and love. "Those were the reasons, that was New York...I need you, I don't need you" This seems to me an example of his honest assessment of human nature (at least his own) in the act of love: ever-changing with the environment and the wayward currents of the mind.
  • Kjell from Trondheim, NorwayStatement from Leonard Cohen, March 2006 (from www.leonardcohenforum.com):

    Ron Cornelius and I had dinner the other night.
    Twenty years since we saw each other last.
    Our old friendship was still there.
    His memory is better than mine.
    From now on, let it be known
    we wrote Chelsea Hotel together.
  • Kjell from Trondheim, NorwayRonald Dean Cornelius is indeed listed as co-writer of this song in the BMI database.
  • Craig from Dunedin, New ZealandI always find the last line "thats all i dont think of you that often" to be a very (dryly)humourous. I think that Cohen sounds more depressing than his lyrics suggest!
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