"One of Us Cannot Be Wrong" as written by and Leonard Cohen....
I lit a thin green candle to make you jealous of me,
But the room just filled up with mosquitoes, they heard that my body was free
Then I took the dust of a long sleepless night and I put it in your little shoe
And then I confess that I tortured the dress that you wore for the world to look through

I showed my heart to the doctor. He said I'd just have to quit
Then he wrote himself a prescription, your name was mentioned in it
Then he locked himself in a library shelf with the details of our honeymoon
And I hear from the nurse that he's gotten much worse and his practice is all in a ruin

I heard of a saint who had loved you, I studied all night in his school
He taught that the duty of lovers is to tarnish the golden rule
And just when I was sure that his teachings were pure he drowned himself in the pool
His body is gone but back here on the lawn his spirit continues to drool

An Eskimo showed me a movie he'd recently taken of you
The poor man could hardly stop shivering, his lips and his fingers were blue
I suppose that he froze when the wind tore off your clothes
And I guess he just never got warm, but you stand there so nice in your blizzard of ice
Oh please let me come into the storm


Lyrics submitted by Hosimosi

"One of Us Cannot Be Wrong" as written by Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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One of Us Cannot Be Wrong song meanings
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22 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentDrewKatsikas has it I believe. I also never thought of the doctor, saint, and eskimo representing himself-- that seems interesting but I don't know about that, could be just three other ex-lovers.
    This song is so poetic.

    "I lit a thin green candle, to make you jealous of me"
    I think the narrator started dating other people to make her jealous, the green candle represents maybe the money he can spend on women on dates, gifts, etc....

    "But the room just filled up with mosquitoes,
    they heard that my body was free."
    The 'candlelight' just attracted mosquitoes or just random women that are using him for his money possibly. The important part is that these new women mean nothing to him.

    "Then I took the dust of a long sleepless night
    and I put it in your little shoe."
    This line always confused me. The 'dust from a long sleepless night' might represent all those thoughts you think of after a break-up that keep you up all night because you're not over it yet. Putting it in her shoe? I don't know, maybe that represents haphazardly telling her all these feelings one night and having her step on them like they are nothing....

    "And then I confess that I tortured the dress
    that you wore for the world to look through."
    He talked bad about her to others so that they saw her in a negative light. The dress represents her image that people saw of her.

    "showed my heart to the doctor...."
    I thought the doctor represented someone close to the narrator that he confided in to help cope with his broken heart, and then this friend ended up getting together with her in the end and winded up just as broken as the narrator.

    "I heard of a saint..."
    I believe the saint is a past lover that the narrator talks to in order to get a better understanding of the woman. The golden rule, for me, has always been to never cheat. So I think the saint cheated on the woman, somewhat like the narrator 'lighting the thin green candle' in the beginning; and likewise they both completely regret pushing her away in the end.

    "An Eskimo showed me a movie
    he'd recently taken of you:"
    The Eskimo seems like a current or recent lover of the woman. It is used to emphasize how amazing she is at hurting men when she can figuratively make an Eskimo shiver. Her love is then compared to a freezing storm, and the narrator is willing to get hurt again just to be with her.

    God I love this song.
    Beksinskion April 13, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne of us (the singer, the doctor, the saint, and the Eskimo) cannot be wrong.
    We hear the tales and love stories of 4 people toward one person. The singer says maybe I am crazy that I'm madly in love with her. But what are you going to say about others: the doctor, the saint and the Eskimo. There's something magical about her and loving her. Which is driving all of us crazy.
    amin77on February 17, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSounds like a more sophisticated version of Hall and Oates' "Maneater." This woman overpowers all men who meet her, they end up frozen to death or killing themselves. It's a metaphor for the pain and suffering she brings. Yet, Cohen still wants to "come into the storm." There's some extremley intriguing elements to her, also.
    DrewKatsikason May 31, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI suppose that he froze when the wind took your clothes
    and I guess he just never got warm.


    I always took those lines as sarcasm. She cheated on the "eskimo", and cohen is bitterly commenting that the wind took her clothes.
    TheOldRevolutionaryon February 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNaa, I know why the eskimo froze. Some women do that.
    dharbigton May 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentlisten to him in the end of this song, when he sings lalala... his voice cracks and he sounds drunk as hell, mourning over this. it's funny the first time, and the second time around the raw emotion of it hits you.
    enjoinon May 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentlisten to him in the end of this song, when he sings lalala... his voice cracks and he sounds drunk as hell, mourning over this. it's funny the first time, and the second time around the raw emotion of it hits you.
    enjoinon May 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentshe dumped him, the doctor, the saint and the eskimo are himself representing the contradictions he feels, and in the end he just gets very very wasted
    bertunoon September 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe woman of this song is just a metaphor for lust.
    chloriciconon December 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentamen DrewKatsikas. hit the nail on the head.
    iluke1on January 04, 2008   Link

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