"Love Calls You By Your Name" as written by and Leonard Cohen....
You thought that it could never happen
To all the people that you became,
Your body lost in legend, the beast so very tame.
But here, right here,
Between the birthmark and the stain,
Between the ocean and your open vein,
Between the snowman and the rain,
Once again, once again,
Love calls you by your name.

The women in your scrapbook
Whom you still praise and blame,
You say they chained you to your fingernails
And you climb the halls of fame.
Oh but here, right here,
Between the peanuts and the cage,
Between the darkness and the stage,
Between the hour and the age,
Once again, once again,
Love calls you by your name.

Shouldering your loneliness
Like a gun that you will not learn to aim,
You stumble into this movie house,
Then you climb, you climb into the frame.
Yes, and here, right here
Between the moonlight and the lane,
Between the tunnel and the train,
Between the victim and his stain,
Once again, once again,
Love calls you by your name.

I leave the lady meditating
On the very love which I, I do not wish to claim,
I journey down the hundred steps,
But the street is still the very same.
And here, right here,
Between the dancer and his cane,
Between the sailboat and the drain,
Between the newsreel and your tiny pain,
Once again, once again,
Love calls you by your name.

Where are you, Judy, where are you, Anne?
Where are the paths your heroes came?
Wondering out loud as the bandage pulls away,
Was I, was I only limping, was I really lame?
Oh here, come over here,
Between the windmill and the grain,
Between the sundial and the chain,
Between the traitor and her pain,
Once again, once again,
Love calls you by your name.


Lyrics submitted by Hosimosi

"Love Calls You by Your Name" as written by Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Love Calls You By Your Name song meanings
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  • +1
    Song MeaningLeonard Cohen very often employs symbols found in Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism, embracing William Blake's visionary realization that "All Religions are One." Cohen's poetry expresses a transcendent view of the world that sees beyond the veil of form.
    If someone experiences a transcendent vision of the world that lies beyond form, there follows the realization that all of us are one, united in the Christ (or Buddha). Cohen's songs evoke this experiential realization. And no one knows it's there until a person finds it. For some people, the first three songs serve to achieve this realization (particularly Avalanche).
    Then the first song on the second side recognizes those who have experienced the realization evoked by Avalanche, Last Year's Man, and Dress Rehearsal Rag (yes, Cohen carefully crafted the progressive song ordering). So Cohen is addressing everyone, but those who have chanced to have caught the lyrics of the previous songs in a way never before experienced, understand the first line in a different way.
    That's why "You thought it could never happen to all the people that you became." And the realization is that your body is lost in legend (the world of the traditional belief in the reality external objects) and the beast (your ego) is so very tame (non-existent). So your body (and everyone else's) is an illusion, and so you realize that you have become all other people. Everyone is merely a reflection of everyone else. And, to the astonishment of many, it is realized that our reality lies in the Christ or Buddha (both pure Spirit)in all of us. That is not the man (a symbol of actualized form, such as the physical body of Buddha, or Jesus), but the true transcendent reality (or essence) of man (Spirit).
    woodshadowon December 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song strikes me as very buddhist, the whole idea of being aware of the present moment and being beyond duality of opposites and illusion. The poetry puts love as this in between point from things that remains forever undefined, but also very real. A fine piece of writing.
    neptune235on April 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this song is describing what lays between the in-betweens, the shadow. I think its a homage to the T. S. Eliot poem, "The Hollow Men".

    "between the idea and the reality
    falls the shadow."
    gelosiaon August 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPressure of living. Tightness of life. Not misery, but the intensity of the pain of being alive.

    Reminds me of someone who once said, "when the heart breaks, it breaks open."
    AlyoshaKaramazovon February 28, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor me it is clear. When I experienced love, it called me by my name.

    "You thought that it could never happen
    to all the people that you became..."

    You transform youself looking for love,
    you look for it in signals,
    in heavan and hell,
    -don't matter where you go-
    when it truly comes,
    it comes for you,
    it loves you as you only are,
    even if you don't know yourself.
    Otherwise it is not love.

    trackon November 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThis song, for me, is about life...life which is glorious at one moment and the same life which crawls and creeps in dungeons of desparation, the next...and, how love, that fragile, ephemeral thing that happens in between these high and low points...which gives it meaning.

    Love is a surprise when it happens each time...you will think, it would never happen. Cohen write, "you thought it could never happen to all the people you became" - life's scars leave you a different person each time, each wound makes you a different person, a harder, more sterile one...and, love, which opens you up, makes you soft...you will think, you have lost it over time. But, then, it surprises you with its suddenness...

    And all this happens, here, right here...in this world, which can be interpreted either as glorious or as a gutter...
    It is either a birthmark, a distinctive and personal thing, which is yours and yours alone, or it is just a stain, which mars your perfection...the world is either a huge thing, deep and full of mysteries — the ocean — or it is just you, and your pain...your open vein. And, very often, it is only a question of how you see the same thing, there is an ocean of pain in your open vein...and, it is so ephemeral, so transient, just a single minute of glory, when you build a snowman, a work of art crafted from the elements...and the rain which destroys all, including your work — all these images are about the way of looking at life, the same thing can be viewed in two different ways, and the extreme transience that exists in this world of huge binaries...of elations and deep misery.

    And, it is in this state of being pulled between extremes which are fast fleeting that love calls you — you feel that love is calling you by your own name...calling you especially...the experience of love is always very personal. It is so new to the person who has gone through it...”no one else would have loved like me” feeling!

    All men have a women’s scrapbook. They are the images with which he lives. They are his past loves, or the ones he is searching...or even the ones he wanks off in his loneliness and frustration. He praises and blames all of them at the same time. They have tied him — to his fingernails...this obvious has a double meaning. When a man is tied to his fingernails and is staring at women’s images in scrapbooks — he is a lonely wanker. But, he is also a guitarist, an artist, who works with his fingernails. The wanker is also a creator...and the women in his scrapbook are not just pornographic images to be consumed and then blamed...but, also goddesses of creativity, his muses, whom he praises...and, through them, he climbs the halls of fame as an artist. But, this is all life has to offer...you are a bird caught in a cage, waiting for your peanuts...your images of desire which you can consume but never escape into the vast skies...life is like the wait for a performer before he or she enters the stage...the short while after he has left the darkness, the mystery of it and the vastness of it and the loneliness of it, behind...as well as the moment where the light floods into you, the stage, where you perform, your moment of glory...and, time...the single hour which can become the age, the moment which sets the ethos of the century itself...It is in these moments...of desperations of petty desires and being pulled between loneliness and moments of glory — that loves calls you by your name.

    Your loneliness, that makes you madly violent inside, is like a gun...that you will never learn to aim...you are like a wild beast then, you will hurt others badly because you do not know how to use your loneliness. It becomes a dangerous and mad weapon at your disposal. And, life is like a movie, that you think you can control because you are just watching, like a spectator. But, then, surprising you, you suddenly find yourselves inside the frame...and, you are racked by the emotions that you thought you could escape by just being an observer.

    And, it is in very fine points that you find love, by chance, in the shortness of this life which is pulled by extreme beauties as well as ugliness — between the moonlight, which lights up the world in its painfully romantic glow and the dark lane...of loneliness. Between the darkness of the tunnel of misery and the train, which is fast approaching it, flooding it with light...the short moment before the blood stain appears on the victim of a physical attack’s body...life is full of such moments of pain — it is there that love appears.

    He has left the lady of his life, she is still meditating on love and he does not wish to claim her love. So much has happened in these moments in their lives, he comes down the hundred steps...of depression and misery...and strange, the street he left remains the very same, with crowds and the same problems of life continue, though he has gone through so much, the world remains the same. And, what is life? Just a short moment between the dancer, a beautiful, agile creature in his youth and beauty, who can use his body the way he wants...become old and using a cane...that short moment in between is life. It is the fine difference between a sailboat which can journey into the open sea and see the world or the drain, which only creates stink...another water body, nevertheless. And, it is the moment before the story of your life, a story of your own tiny pain, petty problems...unfurls before you in the movie house and the newsreel is running before that. It is precisely in these strange place, called life that love calls you by your name.

    Everybody has disappeared...the women in his life, Judy and Ann...and the way they imagined they have been rescued by their princes in stallions...everything has gone, the women, as well as their lovers...everything has changed. Now, when the end is coming, the bandage — a sign of your past pain — is slowly being removed — you wonder...what had happened to me? Was I just limping? Or had I actually become lame and could never walk? You don’t know, how the wounds of life would leave you...if you will be all right ever again? And, it is between the small moments before the grain is ground by the mill, and the assassination of a traitor and the moment before the execution happens...before death/change/misery takes over your little lives that love calls all of us by our names.....
    sunsandrainson February 27, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningHere is what Leonard says before beginning to perform this song in one of his 1974 tours 'Here's a song that searches out the middle place between the beginning and the end.'
    sujiton April 19, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningWhere are the paths your heroes came?

    I think, this line uses the word 'came' as in it is used in the phrases like 'she came a long way'.
    sujiton June 13, 2012   Link

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