The ponies run, the girls are young,
The odds are there to beat.
You win a while, and then it's done
Your little winning streak.
And summoned now to deal
With your invincible defeat,
You live your life as if it's real,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

I'm turning tricks, I'm getting fixed,
I'm back on Boogie Street.
You lose your grip, and then you slip
Into the Masterpiece.
And maybe I had miles to drive,
And promises to keep:
You ditch it all to stay alive,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

And sometimes when the night is slow,
The wretched and the meek,
We gather up our hearts and go,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

Confined to sex, we pressed against
The limits of the sea:
I saw there were no oceans left
For scavengers like me.
I made it to the forward deck.
I blessed our remnant fleet
And then consented to be wrecked,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

I'm turning tricks, I'm getting fixed,
I'm back on Boogie Street.
I guess they won't exchange the gifts
That you were meant to keep.
And quiet is the thought of you,
The file on you complete,
Except what we forgot to do,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

And sometimes when the night is slow,
The wretched and the meek,
We gather up our hearts and go,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

The ponies run, the girls are young,
The odds are there to beat



Lyrics submitted by killingjuliet

"A Thousand Kisses Deep" as written by Leonard Cohen, Sharon Robinson

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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A Thousand Kisses Deep song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +1
    General Comment:a downcast lover talking to the tattered memories of a faded former flame; crouched beneath the heroin-addiction her/his love once lifted him hopefully from, where he began on lonely street
    vanpsychon July 24, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:The song is about falling into an affair. The "odds to beat" are the circumstances stacked against a forbidden relationship. The character's "winning streak" with casual sex is over when he falls for someone unavailable.
    "You live your life as if it's real a thousand kisses deep" refers to lives they lead during the daytime that really are a shell of existence compared to the nightlife they share, when they retreat together for sex, a thousand kisses deep. He's "turning tricks" because he's confined to only sex with someone he actually is in love with. When it's just physical, there is nothing to lose but when your heart is in it- and the circumstances are against it, you prostitute yourself becuase it's better to have some of the person than none. He slips into the masterpiece because it began as much less and loses control over the tryst. Whatever he had to do before being with her he ditches for passion. Same can be said for the obligations that someone who is taken/married/unavailable ditches for a night of passion. "Confined to sex, we pressed against the limits of the sea" You can pursue sex for the sake of having it, but the purpose of the act is to procreate. With fornicatioin comes limitation. When your heart is in it, you want things to go further out. Most likely, Leonard Cohen has lived out dozens of scenerios with women; I believe he's covered every ocean when it comes to relationships. "Consenting to be wrecked a thousand kisses deep" means letting the other person decide how much pain to put you through. The guests will still bring her the wedding gift because she's not leaving the one she's with for her lover. I think they "forgot" to say good bye. Maybe they're still forgetting.
    alex1313on June 15, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Whenever I hear this song, the phrase "Boogie Street" takes precedence over the titular phrase "A Thousand Kisses Deep." Boogie Street is a place where Dionysus would be at home, as the god who breaks formal limits, and revels in the intoxication of... well, reveling, and the risk-taking that such reveling produces. The word boogie itself connotes a dance without limits, usually expressing a desire to "let it all loose" to exhilarating party music at the expense of any formality.
    Cohen paints boogie street with metaphors of youth- "the ponies (not older horses) run, the girls are young, the odds are there to beat." Youth, Cohen implies, is a time to beat the odds, a time to take risks in order to survive (the betting on ponies), and in order to make love (the girls are young) and thereby ease one's solitude, which is nearly always present in differing degrees in Cohen's songs.
    Whereas boogie street is the place where one's limits dissolve in reveling and risk-taking, returning to a place "A Thousand Kisses Deep," implies the rational reflection and an intentional numbering of experience. To reflect on just how many kisses one has had means soberly reflecting on the past, numbering one's experiences. The word "deep" also implies that this act of numbering is more profound than the shallower joys found on boogie street. However, the place of a thousand kissses deep, the place of rational reflection combined with nostalgia for the past, lacks some of the advantages of "boogie street:" The benefits of boogie street are the focus on the present (when dancing, you are simply following the present beat), expanding one's limits through the reveling and risk-taking of the moment , and of a joyful wandering without intention. "A thousand kisses deep," though, is the place of sober reflection we all return to, after the exhilaration of a night or two on boogie street fades, and allows us to make sense of and number the experiences that we've had so far on boogie street.
    jmax1983on November 14, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:I'm sure most people who listen to Leonard Cohen have had encounters with past lovers who they still care for very much and who still care for them, but alas they both know that it will never work, which to me, that's exactly what the song is about. Person A loves Person B. Person B loves Person A. They know they can't be together so they have passionate encounters, ones they will always treasure, then go back to living their lives as if nothing has happened.
    Imposteron September 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Giving in to passions, enjoying an encounter with the knowledge that it will not last or amount to anything...Leonard Cohen is the King of Pathos.

    This is an amazing song to dance to with that particular person...or engage in other activities with while playing in the background. Nice atmosphere and the lyrics...what can one say? Vague, but beautiful.
    Phanta5manicon December 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:The song is about accepting things we can't change, and accepting a path we didn't exactly envision for ourselves. (same theme as the traitor).

    "Can't return the gifts you were mean't to keep"
    You can't pick and choose events, and gifts, life has a large element of choice, but accept the things you are meant to have.

    "Summoned now to deal... ...invincible defeat"
    Down on your luck? Its the way it goes, accept it and live through it.

    "No oceans left..."
    Being a scavenger is like a fantasy, but there are no oceans, that is not who he is. "Consent to be wrecked" Accept your fates you cannot control and move forward from there.

    He believes there is a quiet courage in accepting the path that is laid ahead of you, as you gather up your heart and go a thousand kisses deep.
    Winterson January 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Anyone else catch the reference to "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

    And maybe I had miles to drive,
    And promises to keep:
    sloshon June 30, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Wow, those are some great comments. I did catch the reference to Frost. I remember an interview when Leonard spoke about "The Traitor" and everytime I here this song, I think it speaks to the greater courage being accepting life as it is and not as we wanted it to be. He explains that this is the meaning in "The Traitor." It really comforts me to hear him talk about our percieved failures, being true courage. I think I will just slip into the masterpiece.
    delmerveedleon July 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    Song Meaning:I hope the following will be helpful, its the full poem

    Don't matter if the road is long
    Don't matter if it's steep
    Don't matter if the moon is gone
    And the darkness is complete
    Don't matter if we lose our way
    It's written that we'll meet
    At least, that's what I heard you say
    A thousand kisses deep

    I loved you when you opened
    Like a lily to the heat
    You see, I'm just another snowman
    Standing in the rain and sleet
    Who loved you with his frozen love
    His second hand physique
    With all he is and all he was
    A thousand kisses deep

    I know you had to lie to me
    I know you had to cheat
    You learned it on your father's knee
    And at your mother's feet
    But did you have to fight your way
    Across the burning street
    When all our vital interests lay
    A thousand kisses deep

    I'm turning tricks
    I'm getting fixed
    I'm back on boogie street
    I'd like to quit the business
    But I'm in it, so to speak
    The thought of you is peaceful
    And the file on you complete
    Except what I forgot to do
    A thousand kisses deep

    Don't matter if you're rich and strong
    Don't matter if you're weak
    Don't matter if you write a song
    The nightingales repeat
    Don't matter if it's nine to five
    Or timeless and unique
    You ditch your life to stay alive
    A thousand kisses deep

    The ponies run
    The girls are young
    The odds are there to beat
    You win a while, and then it's done
    Your little winning streak
    And summon now to deal with your invincible defeat
    You live your life as if it's real
    A thousand kisses deep

    I hear their voices in the wine
    That sometimes did me seek
    The band is playing Auld Lang Syne
    But the heart will not retreat
    There's no forsaking what you love
    No existential leap
    As witnessed here in time and blood
    A thousand kisses deep

    Definitely about being heartbroken and back on "boogie street" even though you didnt want to.
    Cause everyones a liar, maybe including himself..and he accepts that.
    MaryBellowson June 01, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:I like the paradoxes:
    "You win a while, and then it's done
    Your little winning streak.
    And summoned now to deal
    With your invincible defeat,
    You live your life as if it's real,
    A Thousand Kisses Deep".

    At certain level you win, but there is a level inside where there will always be insatisfaction,
    where you'll never be god. Great with the paradox "invincible defeat" as with the "swallowed appetite" in Joan of Arc.
    But, of, when are really in love -a thousand kisses deep- and you see nothing else, you are baptized by love, all looks 100% real, you can feel it. Or is it really real?

    This is an experience for all. But to enter better you should who have nothing to lose: "The wretched and the meek". Because to be fully focused, you don't have to be focused on losing something. Full commitment is required. So you should be nothing. But how to be nothing? It has to happen to you, you cannot decide to be nothing, because it is you doing something then.

    And here is the ilusion of getting there through the sensation of absolute that sex gives us. We are confined to take actions in that illusion, since we cannot do nothing to reach the absolute we desire.
    "Confined to sex, we pressed against
    The limits of the sea;
    I saw there were no oceans left
    For scavengers like me".

    Sea and oceans being the absolute, one is just a scavenger looking for it in sex. This defeat (this illusion) is in our nature, that's why it is invincible.

    Boogie street is normal life. OK, after the little death of sex or dillusion, whatever,
    lets go back to earth and common sense. It helps. But there's always that feeling of incompleteness:
    "The file on you complete,
    Except what we forgot to do,
    A Thousand Kisses Deep."
    trackon November 13, 2009   Link

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