Bird on a Wire (Leonard Cohen)

from Crowe: Covers, Live + Rare by Allison Crowe



"Allison Crowe's cover of Leonard Cohen's classic 'Bird On The Wire' is mournful and, true to the lyrics of the song, conscientiously abjures cheap conventional sentiment or ginning up the type of pseudo-consolation that relies on false promises of living happily ever after, e.g., that irreparable conflicts will somehow be resolved, emotional damages repaired, or the pain of personal loss alleviated. Yet, Crowe's voice and phrasing convey such empathy and intimacy that solace and succor are nonetheless granted through grace.

It's a great cover of a great song."

Those words could only have been penned by Allan Showalter.

Liel Leibovitz, author of “A Broken Hallelujah - Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen” has tagged him “arguably the greatest living Cohen expert” and, for years, Showalter (aka DrHGuy) has proven to be the most erudite and entertaining writer to turn their mind to illuminating the world of the iconic poet, songwriter and author – and to share such treasures freely online.

This weekend, the Spook Lights have gone out o'er the good doctor’s beloved blogs – '' and ''.

Allison Crowe, (and her barnacled manager), be humbled and honoured to have received the attentions and appreciation of Allan Showalter. Allison’s music featured numerous times on those blogs that have been deep sources of delight for Cohen-philes, and fans of Anjani Thomas, Sharon Robinson, Perla Batalla, Adam Cohen, The Webb Sisters and so many more artists+.

We hope the world may again some day be brightened by the mysterious DrHGuy’s singular “pastiche of posts with song, dance, snappy chatter, and notes on prose, poesy, love, lust, life, & Leonard Cohen”.

For now, we’ve pulled out the cornbroom to dust-up this commemorative edition video of “Bird on a Wire” in loving salute to ‘1 Heck of a Guy’ – Allan Showalter.

This Leonard Cohen classic has been covered by Jennifer Warnes (on 1987’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” collection AKA “Jenny Sings Lenny”), as well as by Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker, Bob Benvenuti, Katey Sagal (for the US tv program “Songs of Anarchy”), Tim Hardin, The Neville Brothers… in total, more than 150 recording artists since its release on Cohen’s 1969 album “Songs from a Room”. Judy Collins, who introduced the songs of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and other great songwriters to wide audiences “early on”, came out with her cover of the song months earlier - in November 1968 (on her album “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”).

During a tour engagement with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Allison Crowe performed "Bird on a Wire" live on-stage - with dancers choreographed by Jorden Morris - and also her interpretations of Cohen's “Hallelujah” and "Sisters of Mercy".

Here's Allison delivering a singer-songwriter take of "Bird on a Wire" (different to the version which paired her with the RWB's amazing dancers).

A tip of the hat to Karen Sparkes and Gerri Lynn Mackey of Radio CFCB 570 AM, home to Classic Country Café, and Steve Pollett of K-Rock 103.9 FM, sister stations for debuting this recording.


Bird on a Wire

Words & Music by Leonard Cohen
As Performed by Allison Crowe

Like a bird on a wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

Like a fish on a hook
Like a knight from some old-fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee

And if I have been unkind
I hope that you can just let it go by
And if I have been untrue
Well, I hope you know, I hope you know it was never you

Like a baby stillborn
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me

But I swear by this song
And by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee

I saw a young man leaning on his wooden crutch
Well, he said to me, he said "You must not ask for so much"
And a young woman leaning in her darkened door
Well, she cried to me, she cried "Hey, why not ask for more"

Like a bird on a wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free
To be free


from Crowe: Covers, Live + Rare, track released June 27, 2012


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