Well, my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent every day in the Tower of Song

I said to Hank Williams, how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn't answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
Oh, a hundred floors above me in the Tower of Song

I was born like this, I had no choice
I was born with the gift of a golden voice
And twenty-seven angels from the Great Beyond
They tied me to this table right here in the Tower of Song

So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll
I'm very sorry, baby, doesn't look like me at all
I'm standing by the window where the light is strong
Ah, they don't let a woman kill you, not in the Tower of Song

Now, you can say that I've grown bitter but of this you may be sure
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor
And there's a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong
You see, you hear these funny voices in the Tower of Song

I see you standing on the other side
I don't know how the river got so wide
I loved you baby, way back when
And all the bridges are burning that we might have crossed
But I feel so close to everything that we lost
We'll never, we'll never have to lose it again

Now I bid you farewell, I don't know when I'll be back
They're moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track
But you'll be hearing from me baby, long after I'm gone
I'll be speaking to you sweetly from a window in the Tower of Song

Yeah, my friends are gone and my hair is gray
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent every day in the Tower of Song

Lyrics submitted by Nelly, edited by muadibe

Tower of Song Lyrics as written by Leonard Cohen

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Tower of Song song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThe Tower of Song I think represents his duty, his calling as a songwriter - he describes himself being imprisoned inside this Tower of Song like many before him (Hank Williams 100 floors above him) He describes jis life in the Tower of Song as lonely but it's where he belongs and it's his life. The golden voice line is kind of ironic - Cohen's actual voice i wouldnt describe as golden but being born with a golden voice and being tied to the table by the angels in the Tower of Song is like him finding this release and necessity in writing songs.
    teddavis29on April 01, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've always imagined the tower as being a huge block of flats in the middle of rolling countryside.
    Dancooperon June 24, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is one of my favorite Cohen songs. I think it is about the work of songwriting, and "tower" is funny because it makes me think of an office tower, while songwriters labor away in solitude in garrets or whatever. The line "I was born with the gift of a golden voice" always gets a big applause when he sings it - we get the irony... I also love the line "I ache in the places that I used to play" - a sign of aging. I was in a serious auto accident once and this line was my mantra through recovery. Great, great song.
    drgjeltenon April 17, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song was the last on the I'm Your Man album. Cohen would have been about fifty-ish at the time he recorded it, he was trying out a new style of singing and as the cover picture showed, his hair was definitely grey...
    Rich_Mon May 27, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWasn't this also the song he quoted/recited when he was finally inducted into the Juno Hall of Fame thing?

    Always thought this song was expressing how he wasn't very widly accepted amongst fans here in North America. "I was born like this, I had no choice
    I was born with the gift of a golden voice" always seemed sarcastic to me, how here so many critics claimed he couldn't sing, and should stick to just writing poetry. In fact, if I remember, critics and suchlike have always been incredibly harsh on him.
    Other muscians, and his small but rather rabid fans on the other hand, agree that he has an insanely unique voice, and it was that uniqueness that made him madly popular overseas, while still being relatively unknown in mainstream here.
    ravendoveon August 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbut what does the tower of song mean or represent? i just dont think i get this song... help
    midnight_listeneron January 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always found it helpful to take a slighty sci-fi, Stephen King look at this song. If you imagine that there really is a Tower of Song, and that is a lonely, bleak edifice in the middle of a desert it seems to make sense. Yes, old steam trains come and go through the Tower's station and the residents have old radios that they can listen to and broadcast on, but essentially it is a building where old poets and singers go to either see out the end of their days or address the feelings of angst and curiosity they may have.

    Alternatively, it's just Leonard Cohen picking out a wonderful off-beat melody, writing some excellent lines of nonsense and just demonstrating how a master can rule with the simplest of compositions (c.f Fog (again) [live] by Radiohead or Into my Arms by Nick Cave etc, etc.)
    thebigmanon April 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song! I think it's complex, ironic, funny and melancholic all at once, and fascinating!

    My interpretation of The Tower itself refers to the place he is when he's singing and recording this song (and the rest of the album, I'm Your Man) ie the recording studio. The other lyrics make sense if you imagine he's singing about what he's actually doing at the time. His music recordings are how he 'pays his rent every day'.

    The '27 angels, from the great beyond' could well refer to the 'angelic' female backing vocals heard on the track (and the whole album). For all I know, they weren't there at the same time as Leonard Cohen, but recorded either later or even earlier, and were therefore 'from the Great Beyond' in an ironic sense.

    Or Hank Williams, who mysteriously died young (29), and had been wheezing and hiccuping the day of his death but who truly had a golden voice, and who often yodelled in his hits, coughing a 100 floors above (ie, in Heaven, perhaps with a sore throat after all that yodelling!) plays with the idea of the Tower as the entire edifice of the music biz and the artists who make it up.

    Another layer of meaning is obviously LC thinking of his own mortality. He's getting on - he's got grey hair and has lots of aches and pains, he's thinking about a dead singer/songwriter, hearing angels, perhaps feels that this latest failed love affair might just be the death of him, and what will happen 'long after I'm gone'.

    He obviously has some love interest going on at the time. It's LC, so it's not going so peachy! But he can say what he likes in his songs, therefore a woman can't 'kill' him - ie, stop him from expressing himself, in his music, as opposed to in the real world.

    Similarly, this recording, this song, makes it inevitable that she'll hear from him 'long after I'm gone' - whenever she hears the recording and realises it's about her, perhaps even after he's dead and gone.

    I like to imagine him in the studio, looking out of the window as he's working, and thinking about his latest love that's gone wrong, when he wrote and sung these lyrics. (He mentions doing this - looking from the window - twice in the song).

    Looked at and interpreted from that perspective, it's an unusual and interesting attempt to give the song immediacy - he's actually singing about what's happening right then, directly to one other person, at the same time musing about his place in the music business and his legacy to the world (another commentator mentions his induction into the Hall of Fame - this alternative interpretation of the Tower as an edifice, as well as the studio - entirely possible that he intended both meanings - that's what clever lyricists do!

    It never ceases to tickle me.
    mcgubliganon November 04, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentpersonally i think its about sacrificing ones personal goals mainly in the area of relationships, because you are committed to making songs which have negative connotations
    it just paints a great image like the one in "waiting for the miracle" of being so distant from the outside world and conceding that its no choice of his own
    joeosbornemusicon June 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionI'm thrilled that people see the humour in this song because it definitely makes me laugh - Robert Forster captures the humour brilliantly on I'm Your Fan -the line about moving to another tower down the track is a rib tickle.Love the indeep analyses but don't miss the jokes along the way !
    anajumbleon January 10, 2009   Link

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