Leonard Cohen's bitterly pessimistic song about the state of the world in the late 1980s. When he first introduced the song, he said, "Here's a terrible new song. Yes, it embodies all my darkest thoughts....
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long-stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you've been faithful
Ah, give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it's now or never
Everybody knows that it's me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah, when you've done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it's moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you're in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it's coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows


Lyrics submitted by Fistan, edited by cr0wgrrl, bfreeby, cegas, Greifinn

"Everybody Knows" as written by Sharon Robinson Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Everybody Knows song meanings
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29 Comments

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  • +8
    General CommentThis song sort of sums up the 20th century for me - for all the alleged advances made in western society, all these things (in the song) are still true. We arent really better people than we were, even though we like to think so. That either quite depressing or hilarious, depending on how you look at it. I choose to believe Cohen sees the funny side.
    There's a few topical references to the 80s as well - the obvious one being the verse about AIDS (the plague's coming). I think he's talking about the end of the sexual liberation of the 60's when he says "the scene is dead".
    coyote78on April 13, 2007   Link
  • +7
    General CommentSomething about the honest, cynical truth in this song really appeals to me. I think it is the fact the everybody knows the truth about the world, even though they don’t want to admit it, deep down they all know. The honest lyrics just cut through all the backstabbing, all the pretending that something isn’t going all, all the dishonesty with each other and oneself. Whether it is a relationship, a sinking ship, a disease, or even any optimism about the world at all.
    Student1988on December 11, 2009   Link
  • +6
    General CommentWhat I find interesting, is that "everybody knows" everything, but nobody does anything.
    cegason February 02, 2011   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThis song tells you that everybody knows meanings of this song.
    JoeSatrianion September 07, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Comment"Everybody knows the fight was fixed
    The poor stay poor, the rich get rich"

    "Everybody wants a box of chocolates"

    Cohen is a genius.
    BoHoon May 17, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'm surprised no one has posted similar thoughts already, I really didn't think there would be so many interpretations to this song!

    Personally, I feel this song is about a man telling his girlfriend that he knows, (and everybody knows) that she has been cheating on him. I think all the other things he says are just to build up to this message. He is listing dreadful truths, undeniable truths, yet truths that are kept hidden or undiscussed, leading up to the fact that he has discovered his girlfriend's dreadful secret.


    Everybody knows that you love me baby
    Everybody knows that you really do
    Everybody knows that you've been faithful
    Ah give or take a night or two
    Everybody knows you've been discreet
    But there were so many people you just had to meet
    Without your clothes
    And everybody knows

    She claims to love him, but she's been unfaithful, she's been discreet, but everybody knows.

    And now we come to the most powerful verse in this song, where he basically calls his girlfriend a whore, with a meter on her bed (as in a meter to put money in while she is having sex), because everybody knows she's a whore.

    Everybody knows the scene is dead
    But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
    That will disclose
    What everybody knows

    This song is incredibly powerful, no Dylan song can match this in strength. The calm, calculating coldness gives full force to the message, undiminished by petty emotions like anger or jealousy. Each "everybody knows" is meant to shame this girl, each verse about her is an arrow to the heart.
    ismellofhockeyon August 24, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI like the Don Henley version of the song the most, its powerful. The song is the cynic's anthem. It is a haunting piece that bemoans the dreariness and sordidness of reality through the eyes of a now heart-broken idealist.
    pklocekon August 13, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI first heard this song after buying the soundtrack to the movie "Pump Up the Volume". The album had a song apiece from two of my favorite bands, The Pixies and Sonic Youth. I hadn't seen the film yet.

    "Everybody Knows" was covered by Concrete Blonde and I was very moved by the lyrics. The woman singing the song (Johnette Napolitano) sounded to be at the end of her rope with the world. She sang very powerful and passionate. It was the first song on the album

    I later see the movie and the very first image presented is a record spinning with the needle down. There was a man singing this song and he sounded 80 years old. I was disappointed not to hear the version I had bought on CD.

    But the lyrics intrigued so much that I later bought the L. Cohen CD "I'm Your Man."

    I really don't listen to the Concrete Blonde version anymore and have had years of collecting, listening and re-listening to Mr. Cohen's music. Dark, cynical and absolutely essential.

    Zoltaron September 17, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song sort of sums up the 20th century for me - for all the alleged advances made in western society, all these things (in the song) are still true. We arent really better people than we were, even though we like to think so. That either quite depressing or hilarious, depending on how you look at it. I choose to believe Cohen sees the funny side.
    There's a few topical references to the 80s as well - the obvious one being the verse about AIDS (the plague's coming). I think he's talking about the end of the sexual liberation of the 60's when he says "the scene is dead".
    coyote78on April 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's simple

    Everybody knows so god damn much!
    or so they think they do anyways...

    youtube.com/…

    a great version of the song
    funkymorganicson October 23, 2009   Link

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