Famous Blue Raincoat

Album: Songs Of Love And Hate (1971)
  • It's four in the morning, the end of December
    I'm writing you now just to see if you're better
    New York is cold, but I like where I'm living
    There's music on Clinton Street all through the evening

    I hear that you're building your little house deep in the desert
    You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record

    Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
    She said that you gave it to her
    That night that you planned to go clear
    Did you ever go clear?

    Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
    Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
    You'd been to the station to meet every train, and
    You came home without Lili Marlene

    And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
    And when she came back she was nobody's wife

    Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
    One more thin gypsy thief
    Well, I see Jane's awake
    She sends her regards

    And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
    What can I possibly say?
    I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
    I'm glad you stood in my way

    If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
    Well, your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free

    Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
    I thought it was there for good so I never tried

    And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
    She said that you gave it to her
    That night that you planned to go clear

    Sincerely, L Cohen Writer/s: LEONARD COHEN
    Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 12

  • Jon from New York, NyMr. Cohen was a talented, experienced, and serious poet who knew and studied the use of the various types of formal meter. It is what many songwriters today lack. He used the metrical foot Amphibrach in Famous Blue Raincoat. A long syllable with soft ones on both sides. It has a plodding rhythm which makes it feel like someone walking slowly and heavily, plodding sadly along. "It's 4 in the morning..." He obviously can't sleep. As anyone who has been through a triangle (I have), it just guts you. The person is not the person you knew anymore whether they come back or not: "she is nobody's wife anymore..." And, "Jane sends her regards..." can be read like a secret code, a wink, between her and the lover...The song is brilliant and devastatingly effective. Interesting, Cohen said the song wasn't as clear as he would have liked. Of course it isn't. The line "did you ever go clear"... I would read that as his unconscious mind telling him that the entire situation is and always will be unclear--forgetting the literal Scientology reference. Cohen works on many levels. Triangles form the least stable of all communication types, and they are never entirely clear--that is why it is used in drama all the time. Alliances are always shifting in triangles.
  • P from Chicago, IlLloyd Cole does a remarkable cover of this remarkable song.
  • Dale from Augusta, GaActually had this happen to me with my first wife. Except that she didn't stay with me. So this song, if you'll pardon the pun, stikes a real chord with me. Cohen is incredible. He's not a singer, he's a poet who sings.
  • Ben from St. Louis, MoSuch a great, sad song. Even though his best friend took his woman away, he recognizes that she wasn't happy with him to begin with. "Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes. I thought it was there for good so I never tried." Love it.
  • Robert Campion from Galway, IrelandIs "Ron Cornelius" contributing to this thread personally, otherwise I can't imagaine why we are hearing so much about him ??

  • Scott from Los Angeles, CaTori Amos does a version of this song as a b-side at least one of her singles, and she performs it in concert regularly.
    Scott
    Los Angeles
  • Dan from Sydney, AustraliaI agree with Joanie about the "flake of your life" line. Absolutely brilliant and the devastation of it is literally soul crushing. The fact that a mere "flake" of the other man was enough to make Cohen's woman happier than he could ever hope to make her himself. Just put yourself in those shoes with a relationship you may be in and consider how it would feel...
  • Senorita from Canada, Canada"Famous Blue Raincoat" is from the point of view of a man whose marriage has been broken by his wife's infidelity with his close friend, and is written in the form of a letter from "L. Cohen" to a mysterious unidentified "you," who seems to have been involved in a love triangle with Cohen's woman.
  • Joanie from Bowling Green, KyWhat a line: "You treated my woman to a flake of your life, and when she came home, she was nobody's wife". A great writer who wears it well.
  • Gilbert from Madison, WiI wonder if the letter is symbolic of a relationship between two persona, maybe the older and the younger or the artist and the conformist, both fighting to exist within one man. Two people rather than three complete the triangle. If I Listen to the lyric with the notion that Cohen is writing to himself the song seems to fit quite nicely. I believe Mr. Cohen is genius unrivaled among his contemporaries.
  • Frank Nico from Kassel, GermanyIt's been now nearly 12 months since you´ve left me and I think this song is more than I could say about how I feel about this fact. Though you will never read this words, I´m glad to had you in my life. I´m sure that you will never cross this song - how sad! Keep your "famous blue raincoat" and grow old! Bye baby!
  • Geri from Nova Scotia, CanadaReally, when you listen to the lyrics (or rather poems)of his songs, there is the obvious sexual tension to the words but more so than that his intelligence and philosophy touches you on a much deeper level than the fact that his appeal to women is incredibly irresistible. A firend of mine remembers him from his early days in Montreal and recalls his almost hypnotic charm on the female of the species, he had woman following him everywhere.
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