Lady Midnight.

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
Andrew McGeever
Posts: 905
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2002 10:02 pm

Lady Midnight.

Postby Andrew McGeever » Sat Sep 21, 2002 8:38 pm

I have been drawn to this song for many years, and I'm not sure why.
It's from "Songs from A Room", 1969, and reappears on Leonard's "Greatest Hits" album.
Yes, there is the signature soul-searching, a relationship in crisis, yet ending in a note of triumph...."you've won me, you've won me , my Lord".
It is a seductive song, requiring careful listening, as is "Last Year's Man", but that's another album, another string on the board...I hope!
Yours in confusion.
Andrew.
imaginary friend
Posts: 1371
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:09 am
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby imaginary friend » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:20 pm

I've been thinking on two of Leonard's songs recently, Lady Midnight is one of them. I realize Andrew posted this YEARS ago, so I'm wondering if there have been any threads on the Forum discussing Lady Midnight since then...
UrPal
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 7:43 pm
Location: Manchester
Contact:

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby UrPal » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:24 am

It's a song I've always admired too, particularly these lines:

I cried, "Oh, Lady Midnight, I fear that you grow old,
the stars eat your body and the wind makes you cold."


I see an element of continuity into I Left A Woman Waiting (though less sympathetically), in these lines:

I left a woman waiting
I met her sometime later
She said, I see your eyes are dead
What happened to you, lover?

And since she spoke the truth to me
I tried to answer truthfully
Whatever happened to my eyes
Happened to your beauty

...but maybe that's just me. As one is empathetically fatalist in contemplation of its subject, and the other deprecatorily acerbic.
User avatar
hydriot
Posts: 881
Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 3:07 am
Location: back in the UK

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby hydriot » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:37 am

I like this song, because it is one of Leonard's most brutal and cynical. If you want a particular lady, don't waste your time wooing her ("where I knelt upon her floor"). Instead diss her, and she's yours. O Leonard, you can be heartless.
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
imaginary friend
Posts: 1371
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:09 am
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby imaginary friend » Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:43 am

Hi Ur-pal and Hydriot (and hi Andrew if you're around),

Hydriot, my read is very different to yours. Like Andrew, I was drawn to Lady Midnight, but didn't know why.

Then one day, when the lyrics were going round in my head for the umpteenth time, I realized that I knew what it was about. This didn't happen in a sudden 'eureka' moment, it was as if on some level I knew it all along, and it felt right – it fit.

The woman he sought in the song represents the creative spirit (or muse).

He was 'looking for someone with lines in her face'; representing wisdom, experience, the real McCoy

He seeks her to 'hold' and 'unfold' him, he desperately wants to experience creative inspiration, but she 'scorns' him and tells him he's 'dead' (washed up creatively).

Like many artists before, he tries all night to coax or push the spirit into being, and realizes eventually that inspiration cannot be forced, or faked; win or lose, it will only emerge after sincere soul-searching. (and maybe by just sitting still, not trying so hard) Further, his anguish is what the ability to create art springs from: 'it is this that the darkness is for'.

He fears that his creative life is withered ('I fear you grow old...' etc.). She (an inner voice? Anima?) tells him to stop moaning – it won't get him anywhere ... and eventually he emerges from the dark night of despair into a 'sweet' morning of joy, and realizes that through 'bitter searching of the heart' he has recovered his muse.

Leonard's deep veneration of the creative muse is indicated by bestowing upon her the noble title 'Lady'.

PS: Ur-pal, this interpretation would apply to the other song you cited as well, I think :)
UrPal
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 7:43 pm
Location: Manchester
Contact:

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby UrPal » Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:58 am

Interesting interpretation. Whilst I don't discount the possibility that the lyrics have an entirely metaphorical subject I prefer to see Lenny as at least in part a "social realist". If Lady Midnight represented Leonard's muse then for me it'd be diminished as a song.
User avatar
anneporter
Posts: 3133
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: at home by the sea

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby anneporter » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:11 am

imaginary friend , hydriot and urpal

Does it have to be either/or? (flesh woman vs anima/muse?)
UrPal
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 7:43 pm
Location: Manchester
Contact:

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby UrPal » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:19 pm

No, in the same way that "the homicidal bitchin' that goes on in every kitchen" can be either a domestic affair or global.

Something resonates better when connected with an experience of the real world though, and where not entirely wrapped up in notions of self.
imaginary friend
Posts: 1371
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:09 am
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby imaginary friend » Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:15 pm

Yes, of course the song could be referring to either or both – a human love or his artistic passion. It richer for the layers (and our imaginations).

Leonard's deep appreciation of the female 'mystery' is evident in both his work and his love life over the years. I love to observe the special relationship he appears to enjoy with the women he performs with, Perla and Julie, Jennifer Warnes, Sharon, and now the Webbs. It seems natural (to me) that he would view his artistic inspiration as female.
UrPal wrote:
Something resonates better when connected with an experience of the real world though, and where not entirely wrapped up in notions of self.
Hey UrPal, to each his own :razz: For me, something resonates better when connected with an experience on a spiritual level, and not entirely on a reality level. As far as the 'self', I believe that creative inspiration is floating out there in the universe, it is an open gift, not selfish, and accessible to us all, perhaps more so when we allow it to enter and inform us, rather than when we relentlessly pursue it. It's enriched by commitment, care and honesty, which holds true for a love affair too. Even small scale creativity can transform into an art form that enriches us – we are surrounded by it (yup! Right here on this Forum. Seek and ye shall find ;-)
UrPal
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 7:43 pm
Location: Manchester
Contact:

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby UrPal » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:47 pm

imaginary friend wrote: It richer for the layers (and our imaginations).
Quite.

But you show me the imagination totally detached from reality and I'll show you the nearest padded cell to hand :D

Actually, Imaginary, what you say is interesting and fits in with your username. I'd differ in suggesting that what resonates is at a "spiritual" level but borne by an experiential or existential connection with the song or other artwork in question.

This is starting to sound like "angels dancing on the head of a pin" stuff so I'll leave it there.
User avatar
Puddingdale
Posts: 97
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:10 pm

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby Puddingdale » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:34 pm

imaginary friend wrote:The woman he sought in the song represents the creative spirit (or muse).
That's it! Finally the song makes sense to me. I was wrecking my brain for this when actually it should have been so obvious :roll: As for me, I was pondering a hidden death wish in the meeting with lady midnight but in that case the triumphant ending wouldn't have made sense (death overcome and won at the same time).
Of course, I think the lyrics work on many levels and lady midnight as muse surely is not the definite answer. But it provides sort of a missing link in my own musings 8) So, thanks a lot!!
John Etherington
Posts: 2580
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2004 10:17 pm

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby John Etherington » Sat Sep 04, 2010 10:22 am

Maybe all true on some level , but let's not forget this interpretation by writer Drew Cordes, which was mentioned in "The Master Song" thread, earlier this year:


"Lady Midnight," off Songs from a Room, depicts a male submissive kneeling in an attempt to earn his female domme's trust and prove himself worthy of her. The lyrics detail the scene:


I asked her to hold me, I said, ‘Lady, unfold me'



Well, I argued all night like so many have before,

Saying, ‘Whatever you give me, I seem to need so much more.'

Then she pointed at me where I kneeled on her floor,

She said, ‘Don't try to use me or slyly refuse me,

Just win me or lose me, it is this that the darkness is for.'


The speaker begs the domme to hold him, needing the attention she has given him in the past. The domme then tells the kneeling sub exactly how he must treat her if he desires a relationship. She sets the terms of their interaction, saying not to "use her" or "refuse her." She is furthermore referred to in the song by the moniker "Lady Midnight," suggesting that the he refers to her only by this honorific to show his respect and subservience.
holydove
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:38 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby holydove » Sun Sep 12, 2010 7:55 pm

Hi John,

In a recording of Lady Midnight from 1976, instead of : "where I kneeled on her floor", Leonard sings, "where I begged, like a dog, on her floor"; & instead of "but she was past all concern", he sings, "but she was past all control". . .

Further evidence, perhaps, of Drew Cordes' very interesting theory. . .
John Etherington
Posts: 2580
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2004 10:17 pm

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby John Etherington » Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:08 pm

Hi Holydove,

This bears a marked similarity to "I'm Your Man" where Leonard wears his leather mask, and "howls at your beauty like a dog in heat". I guess Leonard may see the S&M scenario as a more honest representation of what iis really going on in certain male-female realtionships.

Do you know which particular 1976 concert these words come from? I saw all four of Leonard's London concerts in 1976, and am always hoping that a recording will magically appear of the July 7th concert at the New Victoria Theatre (this was my 25th birthday, and the day that I first met Leonard).

All the best, John E
Last edited by John Etherington on Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
holydove
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:38 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Lady Midnight.

Postby holydove » Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:28 pm

John Etherington wrote:Hi Holydove,

This bears a marked similarity to "I'm Your Man" where Leonard wears his leather mask, and "howls at your beauty like a dog in heat". I guess Leomnard may see the S&M scenario as a more honest representation of what iis really going on in certain male-female realtionships.

Do you know which particular 1976 concert these words come from? I saw all four of Leonard's London concerts in 1976, and am always hoping that a recording will magically appear of the July 7th concert at the New Victoria Theatre (this was my 25th birthday, and the day that I first met Leonard).

All the best, John E
John, yes, good point - it's very similar to the imagery of I'm Your Man. It also reminds me of "you were the Whore & the Beast of Babylon, I was Rin-Tin-Tin" from Is This What You Wanted. It does seem that Leonard sees this as a very real male-female dynamic, perhaps on more than one level, be it physical/emotional/spiritual - any or all of the above. . .

The recording where I heard Leonard sing those words was the concert of Ludwigshafen '76.
Sorry, but I haven't heard any recordings from London '76; if I ever come across that, I will let you know. How wonderful that you were at all those concerts, & that you met Leonard on your birthday - now that's what I'd call a SPECIAL birthday!!!

Return to “Leonard Cohen's music”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest