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 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 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


Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget


Chelsea Hotel #2 song meanings
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26 Comments

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  • +6
    General CommentLeonard's publicist unbeknownst to Leonard revealed that this song was bout his secret affair with Janis Joplin. While it did great for the record publicity, it really angered Cohen that someone he trusted had leaked the info. Although I'm sure the sogn would ahve been just as affecting without the history of the story I still can't ever listen to this song without picturing the heady(sex crazed) leonard coupling with the physical(sex crazed) joplin. And no, it's anot a pretty image.
    nezitibraincaston July 27, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPS. Another song about Janis Joplin is "Bird Song" by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. Joplin was the girlfriend of Ron "Pigpen" McKernan of the Grateful Dead ,for a while. He died of alcoholism.
    kenkcon April 05, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentJust to add an observation of a lyric towards the end of the song: "I'll never confess, 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"- to some, this may seem to be a sarcastic line, as if to say to himself "I want to seem like I don't care, but underneath I really do care about the death of this lover..but I don't want to admit it to myself or else I might feel really sad about it". Well, yeah, there's a bit about that emotion in this line. But there's another meaning here. I think Leonard is trying to be honest. Perhaps to say he really cared after the fact, this could be hypocritical and a lie, because in reality, maybe he really didn't care about her and brushed her aside like so many of the other fallen robins he dated. It may seem mean, but perhaps that is the truth, that he really didn't care and to lie and say that he did, would dishonor her life and death. But again, he may have had the other emotion as well at the same time. Double meanings like this in Cohen's lyrics, I think are intentional and one of the things that make him such a fascinating, meaningful and credible writer. L. Cohen, you are my mentor, my guru and my musical/lyrical soulmate. The gift of your wisdom is the most invaluable gift I've ever been given (while intentional or not)
    marcalterneton June 21, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAnd 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"

    Clenched fists and fixing yourself. Heroin?
    Riccoon July 08, 2006   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningOne note on the falling robin:

    From the Christian Bible, Matthew 10:29 "What is the price of two sparrows--one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it."

    So Leonard isn't God. He can't keep everyone in mind all the time. He doesn't presume a closeness of a long relationship, or the entitlement of a deep and lasting grief. This was the experience, it mattered as much as it mattered, no more, no less.

    (I have a shorthand for interpreting Leonard Cohen songs: Presume it's about sex, death, faith/religion, and the experience of being an imperfect human. I have yet to find one of his very popular songs that doesn't have at least a touch of all four.)
    gementon February 07, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentChelsea Hotel is a hotel in New York City often frequented by musicians, artist and writers (also the place where Nancy Spungen was allegedly murdered by Sid Vicious). The lyrics are about Leonard's sexual encounter with Janis Joplin at the hotel.
    zeroglitteron October 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've always wondered... what happened to Chelsea Hotel No. 1?
    Fypaston July 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAw, I wish I had never read that... lol... I love Janis, but I don't want to picture her and Leonard in the act... *shudder*
    HibbingismyHolyLandon February 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'd never have thought about 'fixing' in that way, but it makes sense, doesn't it.
    Linmartinon August 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, "fixed yourself" is a reference to heroin, which unfortunately Janis was known to use from time to time.
    genetruon January 27, 2007   Link

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