|Sisters of Mercy (1968-1976)|
|Read the original lyrics of the song|
|BBC Sessions 1968|
When I was in Edmonton, about a year and a half ago, I was greeted at the airport by two young girls, who were wearing mini-skirts, and they said to me that they had introduced the mini-skirt to Edmonton. And they took very, very good care of me. And I wrote this song for them. It's called the "Sisters Of Mercy."
Curious feeling tonight but when we first read
those headlines, I felt all day you know, I don't get into politics but
this kind of headlines.. man.. I know it's not mean but.. .Today with those
headlines I really felt that somehow a war was begun. And it's against that
kind of people that I'm gonna sing this next song. Few years ago I was in
Edmonton, Alberta, a Northern Canadian city. There I first begun to encounter a
different look in people's eye something much more profund than a difference of
dress, but a different kind of expression and a different kind of greeting. And I
met in a Cafe two young girls, and we spent the day together, they showed me
through the snowstorm in Edmonton - they have 6 months of winter - and we
slept together in the evening the three of us. And during the night, although the
sleep was gentle, I woke up and I wrote this song very very quickly and I
actually had it ready for them once they woke up and as soon as they woke up -These
are one of the
few bonuses of being a poet, believe me.. .When they woke up I was ready
with this song, I'll do anything you know.
|Frankfurt April 6th 1972|
I'd like you to come back tomorrow when you've sobered up, you know.
Apparently, you believe that it is a mark of intoxication to want to make love to people you find
Murmurs in the audience
Audience member, "We came here to see you sing, not to watch you make love."
I came here to make love. No really I want to ask you seriously. Would you rather hear me sing, or make love ?Audience, "Make love !"Okay, make love then. I'm not the mad one you know. And I've taken nothing, you know. Just a little Mandrax and a little wine. And a little acid. I mean I know where I am. I know that when I come into a place like this, I come here to make love, I come here to feel other people; the possibility of them making love. I'm sorry, that's the way it is with me. I started to sing with an idea that my songs could bring people into that. We live in cities, we pass thousands of strangers every day. The only way that cities will ever be redeemed, is if people can approach each other on the street with the sole and singular purpose of making love. I would say another thing : all the programs of ecology, all the programs of slum clearance, all the programs of aid to the poor and the correction of poverty will not take place, will fail, until we understand the purpose why we have gathered in these vast numbers, in places on this planet. The reason we have gathered together in these dense masse and city after city in sort that we can explode all notion of what love is, and forget the singing! Forget the concert! Forget the structure! Forget the whole thing ! (interrupted by the audience) If you listen to me sing and you can't listen to me talk, what you are hearing is a lie.
|Interview Dec. 4th, 1974|
I always remember to dedicate this song to the girls for whom I wrote it. And
like a lot of my material it's just completely documentary. It doesn't concern
high metaphysical questions but an accurate reportage as authentic and precise
as I can make it, a description of exactly what happened on the interior
landscape. And I was in Edmonton during a tour by myself of Canada, I guess this
was around 67. I was walking along one of the main streets of Edmonton, it was
bitter cold ; and I knew no-one and I passed these two girls on a doorway. They
invited me to stand in the doorway with them. Of course I did. And some time
later, we found ourselves in my little Hotel room in Edmonton and the three of
us were gonna go to sleep together. Of course I had all kinds of erotic
fantasies of what the evening might bring. Interviewer: How old were you ? Oh I was
an adult. I guess I was around my early 30's. And we went to bed together and I
think we all jammed into this one small couch in this little Hotel and it became
clear that it wasn't the purpose of the evening at all. And at one point, in the
night, I found myself unable to sleep, I got up, and by the moonlight - It was
very very bright, the moon was being reflected off the snow, and my windows were
very bright - I wrote that poem by the ice-reflected moonlight while these women
were sleeping and it was one of the few songs that I ever wrote from top to
bottom without a line of revision . The words flowed and the melody flowed and
by the time they woke up the next morning, it was dawn. I had this completed
song to sing to them.
This song is for Barbara and Lorraine.They took me
out of a snowstorm in Edmonton,Alberta,1966.
Long time ago, two girls named Barbara and lorraine took me out of a snowstorm
in Edmonton, Alberta. Anyhow, it doesn't matter but if I don't mention their
names, they visit me with humiliation every time I sing this song for them.
|1976 Back cover of "Greatest Hits" ("Some notes on the songs")|
This was written in a few hours one winter night in a Hotel room in Edmonton,
Alberta. Barbara and Lorraine were sleeping on the couch. The room was filled with moonlight reflected off
the ice of the North Saskatchewan River. I had it ready for them when they woke up.
|1979 reported in the Harry Rasky's book "The Song of Leonard Cohen - Portrait of a poet, a friendship and a film"|
The Sisters Of Mercy were actually two young women that I met during a snow storm in Edmonton, Alberta. And they came to my Hotel Room and there was something oh, very agreeable about their company. And they had no place to stay and they fell asleep on my bed, and I stayed up and I remember there was a full moon. And I felt like having something to say to them when they woke up, and that was one of those rare and graceful occasions when I was able to write a song from beginning to end in the space of a few hours. And while they slept I worked on this song. And when they woke up I sang it to them. It was compleetely full and finished, and they liked it. Barbara and Lorraine were their names.
|Mars 1985, Warsaw, Poland.|
It was very nice of the Russians to build this Hall for me. My mother came from Russia, she spoke very highly of those people. It is a beautiful Hall, and I thank the Authorities for allowing me to play here. I wish we had a Hall like this where I come from. I would throw a huge party here, I would invite everyone. Maybe I’d just live here alone by myself. I need a lot of space.