"Take This Waltz" as written by Leonard Cohen and Garcia Lorca....
Now in Vienna there are ten pretty women
There's a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There's a lobby with nine hundred windows
There's a tree where the doves go to die
There's a piece that was torn from the morning
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost

I, I-I-I
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws

Oh, I want you, I want you, I want you
On a chair with a dead magazine
In the cave at the tip of the lilly
In some hallway where love's never been
On a bed where the moon has been sweating
In a cry filled with footsteps and sand

I, I-I-I
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take its broken waist in your hand

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
With its very own breath of brandy and Death
Dragging its tail in the sea

There's a concert hall in Vienna
Where your mouth had a thousand reviews
There's a bar where the boys have stopped talking
They've been sentenced to death by the blues
Ah, but who is it climbs to your picture
With a garland of freshly cut tears?

I, I-I-I
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz, it's been dying for years

There's an attic where children are playing
Where I've got to lie down with you soon
In a dream of Hungarian lanterns
In the mist of some sweet afternoon
And I'll see what you've chained to your sorrow
All your sheep and your lillies of snow

I, I-I-I
Take this waltz, take this waltz
With its "I'll never forget you, you know!"

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
With its very own breath of brandy and Death
Dragging its tail in the sea

And I'll dance with you in Vienna
I'll be wearing a river's disguise
The hyacinth wild on my shoulder
My mouth on the dew of your thighs
And I'll bury my soul in a scrapbook
With the photographs there, and the moss
And I'll yield to the flood of your beauty
My cheap violin and my cross
And you'll carry me down on your dancing
To the pools that you lift on your wrist
Oh my love, oh my love
Take this waltz, take this waltz
It's yours now, it's all that there is

(La-la-la, la-la-la)
(La-la-la, la-la-la)
(La-la-la, la-la-la)
(La-la-la, la-la-la)
(La-la-la, la-la-la)
(La-la-la, la-la-la)
(I, I-I-I)


Lyrics submitted by 16996602

"Take This Waltz" as written by Leonard Cohen Garcia Lorca

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Take This Waltz song meanings
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  • +3
    My InterpretationI completely agree with AnsleyLC.

    My interpretation is that the writer dated a singer and she died.

    The ten pretty women (possibly part of her family), the shoulder where Death comes to cry, the lobby with nine hundred windows and the tree where the doves go to die are all in the chapel; the piece that was torn from the morning as it hangs in the Gallery of Frost is apparently a flower wreath.

    He still wants her of course and the chair with a dead magazine could be a memory or as he is sitting in the funeral home. I believe the 'cave at the tip of the lily' is the entrance to where they put her to rest (mausoleum), and the hallways where love's never been, is its halls.

    Not sure how "on a bed where the moon has been sweating" ties in, but in a cry filled with footsteps and sand, are people walking with the casket and crying.

    With its very own breath of brandy and Death Dragging its tail in the sea (he's drowning in drink).

    There's a concert hall in Vienna Where your mouth had a thousand reviews is the part that makes me think she was a singer. And it ties with the bar where the boys have stopped talking as they are all sad (blue).

    Mostly though it is the next verse, the: “Ah, but who is it climbs to your picture with a garland of freshly cut tears?”, because this depicts him visiting her resting place and taking flowers.

    Finally, the attic where children are playing, I think is heaven, where he must go to be with her soon and as another poster said, the sheep and the lilies are a reference to the Book of Solomon.

    LilMsPurrfecton May 02, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSome of the imagery is distinctly sexual and even violent.

    "Oh I want you, I want you, I want you
    On a chair with a dead magazine
    In the cave at the tip of the lily
    In some hallways where love's never been"

    Seems to me to be about taking a girl's virginity.

    The song as a whole seems to be about love and lust, entropy and decay. The very last verse evokes images of the singer and the girl he's singing to withdrawing into each other and into nature.
    Dancooperon June 24, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI'd heard an interpretation before of this song as being about a dead lover, the first verse taking place in a church, at her funeral (the "tree where the doves go to die" is a crucifix, and the "piece torn from the morning" is her body lying in a cold casket, on display in a "gallery of frost"). The interpreter gave the second verse as him stealing a moment alone, thinking how much he wants her with him again, right here, "in a chair with a dead magazine" in some reception or waiting room, or in one of the church's lonely hallways. As for "the cave at the tip of the lily," I see him looking at funeral flowers and thinking the hollow made by a lily's curved petal looks like a beautiful place to hide away with her. She might have been a singer (leaving her adoring fans "sentenced to death by the blues"), but that would be such a literal interpretation compared to the rest of the song, I'm easily willing to surrender that part. -_^

    The bit of my own that I have to add is that, after having this song looping in my head for two days, the still-mysterious last verse kind of slapped me upside the head. If all of the above is where you go with the song's meaning, I'm pretty sure that in the last verse, the singer drowns himself.

    He says he will dance with his (dead!) lover wearing a disguise, like at a masquerade ball--and he's going as a river. He'll "bury his soul" with "the moss", and "yield to the flood of your beauty." And to speak of laying down or giving up one's cross is sometimes used to mean giving up the world's difficulties and ugliness for the rest at the end of life. Then to top it all off, she will "carry [him] down"? I dunno, guys, I'm pretty convinced! XD

    Looking at all that, it makes me think the "waltz" he's offering her throughout is the broken (probably drunken--"breath of brandy and death") remainder of his life now that she's gone.
    AnsleyLCon October 13, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIncidentally, the lines

    there's a bar where the boys have stopped talking
    they've been sentenced to death by the blues

    is a brilliant addition of Cohens, and relates to an anecdote about the night Lorca was introduced to fellow (doomed) gay poet Hart Crane by a mutual bilingual friend. Crane suggested they go out to this gay speakeasy he liked, and their friend walked along with them, translating as they chatted about their mutual love of Walt Whitman. When they got to the bar, their translating friend, who was straight, felt really uncomfortable so said he'd come back later to pick up Lorca. Unfortunately, Crane spoke no Spanish, and Lorca spoke no English, so they split up, and when their friend returned a few hours later, he found the crowd of sailors in the bar split fairly evenly with half surrounding Crane as he told dirty jokes, and half trying to follow Lorca as he played old flamenco songs on the piano and led (something of a) drunken sing-along.

    Within a couple of years, both of them would be dead, indirectly "sentenced to death by the blues." Hart found the closet incredibly stressful and spiraled down into alcoholism and depression, eventually jumping overboard to his death following a brutal gay-bashing onboard a ship in the Caribbean, whereas Lorca's post-Dali depression led to a sense of drive and purpose in stretching the boundaries of theatre as a means of activism to better the lot of women and gays in profoundly misogynistic/homophobic Spain, which ultimately led to his assassination by the fascists (who it so happened wore blue uniforms).
    dakinion August 16, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAn amazing song, Cohen paints a picture in your mind of this beautiful yet terrible place he describes. It's not heaven... it's not hell, it's just beauty mixed with sadness.
    Prodigalon March 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe lyrics are actually a translation, or rather interpretation, of a poem by Frederico Garcia Lorca called "Pequeño Valz Vienes." An interpretation because as a translation, it seems, it is not perfect and is slightly altered by Cohen to fit the context and rhythm of the song. I like how he has an almost roundabout way of saying things. It's really poetic. I really like this song.
    mrmisteron July 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI absolutely love the bit from "And I'll dance with you in Vienna" onwards. Maybe it's the harmony or something, but it's so beautiful.
    Elenaiaon December 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with all three of you. In "All your sheep and your lilies of snow" I think there's some biblical imagery from Song of Solomon:
    1:7 Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday.
    2:1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
    There's nothing about snow in Song of Solomon, but the reference could have been representing the purity described in the book.
    omgliekitzlaurylon January 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjust my impression or is this song the perfect soundtrack to the life of Corto Maltese. Truly poetic, truly beautiful, it reveals a secret world of love, loss, life and death. Probably my number 1 song by cohen, "but i may be wrong" ;) Amazing, though
    cortomaltese_666on June 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"There's a bar where the boys have stopped talking
    They've been sentenced to death by the blues"

    This line got stuck in my head today.
    Cool Cozon September 06, 2008   Link

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