Lady Midnight.

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
imaginary friend
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Re: Lady Midnight.

Post by imaginary friend » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:16 am

Hello John E.

Just for fun, in the forum members' poetry section, I have an ongoing alter ego as dominatrix Baroness Imaginary Friend – so I loved reading Drew Cordes theory re. meaning of Lady Midnight!

But – could LC be intimating that the urge to create poetry dominates him as surely as if she/it were a dom, and thus he pleads and kneels before her/its power? 8)
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Puddingdale
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Re: Lady Midnight.

Post by Puddingdale » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:49 pm

imaginary friend wrote:But – could LC be intimating that the urge to create poetry dominates him as surely as if she/it were a dom, and thus he pleads and kneels before her/its power?
I think both levels of meaning are intended. The poet and creativity as well as a man trying to win some kind of dom, maybe with both being fed up with it and in the end the slave has become the Lord, their roles not really reversed though because the woman is still called "my lady". So in the end both are equals - could it be love now? :lol:
lorca00
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Re: Lady Midnight.

Post by lorca00 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:07 pm

Hey,

Lady Midnight refers to the songwriting process and the difficulties of writing/completing a song.
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Puddingdale
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Re: Lady Midnight.

Post by Puddingdale » Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:43 pm

lorca00 wrote:Hey,

Lady Midnight refers to the songwriting process and the difficulties of writing/completing a song.
Which is exactly what most of us have agreed on here - including me. :neutral:
aerolls
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Re: Lady Midnight.

Post by aerolls » Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:45 am

I just found this, from a while back, Popmatters review of Isle of Wight show 1970--

"Almost as revelatory as “Tonight Will Be Fine” in its Isle of Wight incarnation is “Lady Midnight”, which was one of the more curious inclusions on 1975’s The Best of Leonard Cohen. The studio take is a perfectly serviceable, bouncy, compact little song, but it lacks the beautiful power of his truly great work. The Isle of Wight version is a whole different animal: it’s slowed down just a bit, Cohen delivers a smooth, fluid vocal, and the moment the ladies come in at the end of the song, with a wonderfully drawn-out “You’ve won me, my lord,” leading into some spirited ad-libbing by Cohen, is one of the best demonstrations of what the background vocalists bring to his music. He sounds at ease, and at one, with his songs, in no small part due to the ladies’ elevating them. The six songs drawn from Songs From a Room have never sounded better than they do here."
LyricsDecrypter
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Re: Lady Midnight.

Post by LyricsDecrypter » Thu Jan 14, 2021 1:43 pm

I would like to offer a different interpretation of the lyrics
one I have been thinking about for many years:

I came by myself to a very crowded place

makes me think of a hospital, where there is always bustle, yet one always feels a bit lost / alone.


I was looking for someone who had lines in her face
And I found her there, but she was passed all concern


following the thought of a hospital, the person searched for is old and ill beyond recovery.
For whom would one search for in such a fashion? A loved one? I believe: a mother.


I asked her to hold me, I said: lady unfold me,
but she scorned me and told me
I was dead, and I could never return.
Well I argued all night, like so many have before
saying what ever you give me, I seem to need so much more


This passage tells the story that mother and child have fallen apart, but on her death bed, the now grown child wants to reconcile. A child wants love from it's parents, and even when there is anger between mother and child, there is still a bond that cannot be broken, a certain sense of need will always be there.
The feminine scorn is argued against in a male futile fashion (like so many have before) instead of talking to the heart, but finally there is an honest sentence talking (part of) the blame, and she reacts:


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.


So the child is a son, and he accepts it is her floor, her terms, and he must go all in, no reserves held back, it is the moment of making up again or losing her forever. She has realised that the short time she has left to live makes for the ultimatum, her death (the darkness) will not wait for any beating around the bush any longer, cards on the table, now or never - it is this the darkness is for.


And I cried: oh lady midnight, I fear that you grow old,
the stars eat your body, and the wind makes you cold.


He is accepting the truth, the cold and bitter truth that he has been shying from. His mother-figure will be no more soon. She is going to die before the light comes (hence lady midnight), the mother has grown old and cancer (metasta r sis) is eating her body, the wind (of time) makes her cold (as in death).
This acceptance reveals that he is ready to leave behind all the baggage of a relationship gone bad.
All his previous sentences start with himself, they do not anymore.


If we cry now, she said, it will just be ignored.
So I walked through the morning, sweet early morning
I could hear my lady calling, you've won me, you've won my, my Lord.


So she sees that he has left behind any misgivings, animosities, misunderstandings etc. such a relationship goes through, and she reveals it is all good now, but there is no sense in crying, their private reconciliation means nothing to the world outside.
And he walks the last steps with her, the morning is sweet because the burden is lifted: They have made up, and her bodily pains are gone in death. Having cleared that black spot she can join with g_d, not only has she won back the untainted love of her son, but also cleansed her soul and can ascent to the Lord.
Because this is so important, it is repeated many times.

...my twopence worth.
LD

EDiT: perusing through these forums, I just found this post about Famous Blue Raincoat, the last paragraph feels very fitting to what I am trying to express above and sheds light on that it might not be a mother-son relationship afterall, but rather one of a wife and husband:
maggiej wrote:
Tue Nov 22, 2016 4:38 pm
[...]
where she discovered her higher self, free of the old ‘dependence’ & jealousies, and moved on - as he did too - each on their own respective spiritual and creative journeys. And wonderfully, in the end, a “reconciliation” is reached, of mutual forgiveness and understanding.

With the public release of his ‘farewell letter’ to Marianne, in July, (at the behest of ‘one of her closest friends’) Cohen, for me at least, has finally ’gone clear’ (acknowledging what he had never fully expressed) and “nailng” the mystery of these wonderful lyrics that is a universal poem about the magic, power and unfailing endurance of Love, and in particular, I believe, of Marianne - his ‘first love’. Thank you, Leonard, for your ultimate honesty - and for EVERYTHING! You are still - always - with us, in LOVE.
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