"Treaty" as written by and Leonard Cohen....
I've seen you change the water into wine
I've seen you change it back to water too
I sit at your table every night
I try but I just don't get high with you

I wish there was a treaty we could sign
I do not care who takes this bloody hill
I'm angry and I'm tired all the time
I wish there was a treaty
I wish there was a treaty
Between your love and mine

They're dancing in the street, it's Jubilee
We sold ourselves for love but now we're free
I'm sorry for the ghost I made you be
Only one of us was real and that was me

I haven't said a word since you've been gone
That any liar couldn't say as well
I just can't believe the static coming on
You were my ground, my safe and sound
You were my aerial

The fields are crying out, it's Jubilee
We sold ourselves for love but now we're free
I'm sorry for the ghost I made you be
Only one of us was real and that was me

I heard the snake was baffled by his sin
He shed his scales to find the snake within
But born again is born without a skin
The poison enters into everything

And I wish there was a treaty we could sign
I do not care who takes this bloody hill
I'm angry and I'm tired all the time
I wish there was a treaty
I wish there was a treaty
Between your love and mine


Lyrics submitted by bloodangel

"Treaty" as written by Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Treaty song meanings
Add your thoughts

8 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    My InterpretationCohen's allusions are always complex and this nod to Ariel is no exception. I think you'll find your answer in Shelley's poem With a guitar. To Jane. Then again, maybe not, but that's my take on it.
    mpg48on November 19, 2017   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWith "you are my aerial" I figured he was talking about a floating, connected existence. But, with it being Cohen, I'm sure it's meaning is heavily layered.
    ice pick ed newcombon December 29, 2017   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI’m assuming the Treaty Mr Cohen speaks of is between himself and G_d.
    Other views?
    cmr3053on April 23, 2018   Link
  • 0
    QuestionSomeone please tell me, what does he mean by "you were my aerial"?

    That's a pretty important lyric, I can't figure it out for the life of me ; )

    thanks in advance~
    emptyemptyon April 02, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm confident that "aerial" in this sense is a metaphor that goes along with the reference to "static" (signal interference of electromagnetic waves). In the US, we would almost always call it an "antenna", but it is "aerial" to many, if not most, other English-speaking locales.
    Whomever is being referenced is, obviously, someone who helps the speaker to hear invisible signals more clearly.
    warmPhaseon May 23, 2018   Link
  • 0
    QuestionWith regard to following verses:
    They’re dancing in the street, it’s Jubilee
    We sold ourselves for love but now we’re free

    I found that Jubilee is a Jewish celebration where all slaves are set free. But why says Cohen in the next verse ‘we’? Does he mean ‘me and God’ as the whole song is about him and God? How can God sell himself and thereafter become free?
    MarkBehetson May 27, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think longing for a 'treaty' is longing for security and common ground once a meaningful love affair is over. The first and second stanzas describe the relationship as something domestically blissful and as miraculous as turning water into wine (first stanza), + as something which made the singer complete: his partner was his truth ('I haven't said a word ... that any liar couldn't say as well') and both earth and sky/aerial (second stanza). The 'static' of silence after the separation is thus hard to believe contrasted with such a deep communication.

    The chorus introduces the central theme, which is freedom. On the one hand, the singer would rather be bound by a treaty establishing how things might continue even regardless of costs, ego etc. ('I do not care who takes this bloody hill') On the other hand there is some freedom gained by the separation. Being in love meant enslavement and breaking up is liberating ('we sold ourselves for love, but now we're free'), like a jubilee in the Jewish tradition. Through this separation he also realizes he treated his partner as a fragment of himself rather than a flesh-and-blood human being, reminiscent of the biblical story of Adam and Eve as made from his rib (I'm sorry for the ghost I made you be/Only one of us was real and that was me')

    This mistake was something the singer was perhaps 'baffled' to realize he was making, like the snake in the biblical story in the third stanza. The kind of evil we inflict in relationships is banal in this sense, and it's not clear it's even possible to change: besides the incredible vulnerability of starting anew ('born again is born without a skin'), there is no guarantee the inherent faults will disappear rather than 'poison everything'. I think this solution of internal change is contrasted to that of a treaty (external, agreed by someone else). The fact that he says 'I wish there was a treaty' (not 'let's sign a treaty') suggests he is pessimistic even this is possible: wars between human beings end in 'static', not better agreements.
    MyHairWasKempton October 02, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHi, I also just signed up after reading all of the brilliant comments y'all posted here.
    I listened to "Treaty" twice and I just had to know what he was eluding to. Most of you validated my personal perspective of the song and at the same time, others opened my mind to new theories. Thank you for your insights. Happy to be here, Sue
    Butilikeiton March 20, 2019   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain