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Leonard Cohen Famous Blue Raincoat Lyrics

Last updated: 10/14/2011 11:00:00 AM

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
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

Thanks to Rod Weatherbie for submitting Famous Blue Raincoat Lyrics.

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FBR | Reviewer: Mozart | 10/14/11

First I would like to say how incredible this song is. One of my favorite songs ever.
A poem before anything, made into a song, and to top it all off, and what makes it so exceptional-is the fact that it is song written as a letter.
I would like to be short...- I have a different interpretation as to the meaning of this song/letter.
First, let me say that it is a letter that was never meant to be sent- for the person the letter is really written for- is Leonard Cohen himself.
Yes, I feel that the person building his little house in the desert is actually L. Cohen.
It is L. Cohen who wanted to "go clear" (live a new life: Scientology or Zen, etc.)but never actually did- hence the question "Did you ever go clear?
It is L. Cohen with the rose in his teeth (flatterer of words, romanticizer of women, etc.)

I believe that L. Cohen wrote this so as to make us believe that he was the hurt husband in this song but in actual fact- a twist as it were- he was the one who betrayed his friend and cheated on his wife.

Jane was married but she also had feelings for her husband's friend. The husband was unaware to a certain extent. The husband knew there was something not right with his wife but failed to look into the matter. During this time, the friend felt that his relationship with Jane cannot continue and that he was going to get away. Whether Jane agreed or not to this plan, she wanted something to remember him by and so he gave her a lock of his hair. Once the husband discovered his wife's true affection for his one time friend, instead of being angry or resentful-or if he was, it was not for a long time- he is instead grateful to his friend... "I'm glad you stood in my way". The friend unlocked something in Jane- through the lock of his hair. This unlocking also unlocked the relationship between Jane and her husband... "when she came back she was nobody's wife.(unchaining event- no more bound)

The final matter of this song is that Jane belongs to nobody (neither to her once husband and neither to her husband's friend). The friend is famous for always wearing a raincoat but is now famously never around and finds himself cut-off and alone (gypsy-a stranger on the run). The husband too has nobody(no wife and no friend). Sad for all.

the Friend:
I believe that he had a problem of some kind. He probably served in the military for a period of time and is now living on some kind of pension... "You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record."
He needed to get away- perhaps he was mentally depressed because of the war. Depressed also because his true love is nowhere to be found..."without Lili Marlene". Or he was rich and didn't know what to do with himself. And because he cannot find his true love (you cannot buy love)...he resorts to casual relationships- hurting others and more so himself.

He seduced Jane, he hurt his best friend (Jane's husband) in the process and now plans to seclude himself in the desert.
In my opinion, this is no other than L. Cohen.

a rare song | Reviewer: Anonymous | 2/11/07

the song touched me in a way i couldn't even explain even before i knew it was written about such cruel subject.

Famous Blue Raincoat | Reviewer: P Markham | 6/2/05

A brilliant, haunting work, which takes the form of a letter from Leonard Cohen to the brother who has cuckolded him.
It's a tale of one brother who has married (Cohen) and another who has lived an itinerant life littered with random relationships.
The brother, apparently without guilt, took up with Cohen's wife at a time when the marriage was in difficulty.
When the affair ended, it brought an unexpected benefit to Cohen's own relationship.
As Cohen tells his brother, 'Thanks for the trouble you took, from her eyes, I thought it was there for good, so I never tried.'
Cohen however, is (naturally) embittered and much of the fun of the song is guessing how much of what he writes can be taken at face value (not much!): 'If you ever come back here, for Jane or for me, your enemy is sleeping, his woman is free'?
And don't we sense a satisfaction as Cohen informs him, 'Last time we saw you you looked so much older, your famous blue raincoat was ripped at the shoulder'?
Superb lyrics, a poetic examination of one of the greatest betrayals.
Profound, moving, thought-provoking, exceptional.