In The House Of Mystery (Unplugged)

Lyrics

It seems so long ago,
Nancy was alone,
looking at the Late Late show
through a semi-precious stone.
In the House of Honesty
her father was on trial,
in the House of Mystery
there was no one at all,
there was no one at all.

It seems so long ago,
none of us were strong,
Nancy wore green stockings
and she slept with everyone.
She never said she’d wait for us
although she was alone,
I think she fell in love for us
in nineteen sixty one,
in nineteen sixty one.

It seems so long ago,
Nancy was alone,
a forty five beside her head,
an open telephone.
We told her she was beautiful,
we told her she was free
but none of us would meet her in
the House of Mystery,
the House of Mystery.

And now you look around you,
see her everywhere,
many use her body,
many comb her hair.
In the hollow of the night
when you are cold and numb
you hear her talking freely then,
she’s happy that you’ve come,
she’s happy that you’ve come.

Many men have loved the bells
you fastened to the rein
and everyone who wanted you
they found what they will always want again
Your beauty lost to you yourself
just as it was lost to them

Oh take this longing from my tongue
whatever useless things these hands have done
Let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love

Your body like a searchlight
my poverty revealed
I would like to try your charity
until you cry “Now you must try my greed”
And everything depends upon
how near you sleep to me

Just take this longing from my tongue
and all the lonely things my hands have done
Let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love

You’re hungry as an archway
through which the troops have passed
I stand in ruins behind you
with your winter clothes and your broken sandal straps
I love to see you naked over there
especially from the back

Ah take this longing from my tongue
and all the lonely things my hands have done
untie for me your hired blue gown
like you would do for one you love

You’re faithful to the better man
Well I’m afraid he’s left
So let me judge your love affair
in this very room where I have sentenced mine to death
I’ll even wear these old laurel leaves
that he’s shaken from his head

Just take this longing from my tongue
All useless things my hands have done
let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love
Like you would do for one you love

The door it opened slowly,
my father he came in,
I was nine years old.
And he stood so tall above me,
blue eyes they were shining
and his voice was very cold.
He said, “I’ve had a vision
and you know I’m strong and holy,
I must do what I’ve been told.”
So he started up the mountain,
I was running, he was walking,
and his axe was made of gold.
The trees they got much smaller,
the lake a lady’s mirror,
we stopped to drink some wine.
Then he threw the bottle over.
Broke a minute later
and he put his hand on mine.
Thought I saw an eagle
but it might have been a vulture,
I never could decide.
Then my father built an altar,
he looked once behind his shoulder,
he knew I would not hide.
You who build these altars now
to sacrifice these children,
you must not do it anymore.
A scheme is not a vision
and you never have been tempted
by a demon or a god.
You who stand above them now,
your hatchets blunt and bloody,
you were not there before,
when I lay upon a mountain
and my father’s hand was trembling
with the beauty of the word.
And if you call me brother now,
forgive me if I inquire,
“Just according to whose plan?”
When it all comes down to dust
I will kill you if I must,
I will help you if I can.
When it all comes down to dust
I will help you if I must,
I will kill you if I can.
And mercy on our uniform,
man of peace or man of war,
the peacock spreads his fan.

It’s four in the morning, the end of December
I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better
New York is cold, but I like where I’m living
There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.
And I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert
You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record.
Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
The night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?
Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You’d been to the station to meet every train
You came home without Lili Marlene
You treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody’s wife.
I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief

Well I see Jane’s awake.
She sends her regards.
Well what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
I’m glad you stood in my way.
And if you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.
And thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.
And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
The night that you planned to go clear

Sincerely,
L Cohen

Now the flames they followed joan of arc
As she came riding through the dark.
No moon to keep her armour bright,
No man to get her through this very smoky night.

She said, I am tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
A wedding dress or something white
To wear upon my swollen appetite.

Well, I’m glad to hear you talk this way,
You know I’ve watched you riding every day
And something in me yearns to win
Such a cold and lonesome heroine.

“And who are you?”, she sternly spoke
To the one beneath the smoke.
“Why, I’m fire”, he replied,
“And I love your solitude, I love your pride”.

Then fire, make your body cold,
I’m going to give you mine to hold,
Saying this she climbed inside
To be his one, to be his only bride.

And deep into his fiery heart
He took the dust of joan of arc,
And high above the wedding guests
He hung the ashes of her wedding dress.

It was deep into his fiery heart
He took the dust of joan of arc,
And then she clearly understood
If he was fire, oh, then she must be wood.

I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
But must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

Oh the sisters of mercy,
they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me
when I thought that I just can’t go on.

And they brought me their comfort
and later they brought me this song.
Oh I hope you run into them,
you who’ve been travelling so long.
Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control.

It begins with your family, but soon it comes ’round to your soul.
Well I’ve been where you’re hanging,
I think I can see how you’re pinned.
When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.

They lay down beside me, I make my confession to them.
They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.

When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon.
Don’t turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.
And you won’t make me jealous
if I hear that they sweetened your night.

We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right,
We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right.

I believe you heard your master sing when I was sick in bed.
I suppose that he told you everything that I keep locked away in my head.
Your master took you travelling,
well at least that’s what you said.
And now do you come back to bring
your prisoner wine and bread?
You met him at some temple, where they take your clothes at the door.
He was just a numberless man in a chair who’d just come back from the war.
And you wrap up his tired face in your hair
and he hands you the apple core.
Then he touches your lips now so suddenly bare
of all the kisses we put on some time before.
And he gave you a German Shepherd to walk with a collar of leather and nails,
and he never once made you explain or talk about all of the little details,
such as who had a worm and who had a rock,
and who had you through the mail.
Now your love is a secret all over the block,
and it never stops not even when your master fails.
And he took you up in his aeroplane, which he flew without any hands,
and you cruised above the ribbons of rain that drove the crowd from the stands.
Then he killed the lights on a lonely lane
where an ape with angel glands,
erased the final wisps of pain
with the music of rubber bands.
And now I hear your master sing, you kneel for him to come.
His body is a golden string that your body is hanging from.
His body is a golden string,
my body has grown numb.
And now you hear your master sing,
your shirt is all undone.
And will you kneel beside this bed that we polished so long ago,
before your master chose instead to make my bed of snow?
Your eyes are wild and your knuckles are red
and you’re speaking far too low.
And I can’t make out what your master said
before he made you go.
And I think you’re playing far too rough for a lady who’s been to the moon.
I’ve lain by this window long enough you get used to an empty room.
And your love is some dust in an old man’s cup
who is tapping his foot to a tune,
and your thighs are a ruin, and you want too much,
let’s say you’ve come back some time too soon.
I loved your master perfectly I taught him all that he knew.
He was starving in some deep mystery like a man who is sure what is true.
And I sent you to him with my guarantee
I could teach him something new,
and I taught him how you would long for me
no matter what he said no matter what you’d do.
I believe that you heard your master sing while I was sick in bed,
I’m sure that he told you everything I must keep locked away in my head.
Your master took you travelling,
well at least that’s what you said,
And now do you come back to bring
your prisoner wine and bread?

Like a bird on a wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook,
like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons just for thee.

If I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you.

Like a baby, stillborn,
like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
But I swear by this song
and by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee.

I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
he said to me, “You must not ask for so much.”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
she cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”

Like a bird on a wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will
If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing
If it be your will
If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill
On all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will
To make us well
And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will.
If it be your will.

Trav’ling lady, stay awhile
until the night is over.
I’m just a station on your way,
I know I’m not your lover.
Well I lived with a child of snow
when I was a soldier,
and I fought every man for her
until the nights grew colder.
She used to wear her hair like you
except when she was sleeping,
and then she’d weave it on a loom
of smoke and gold and breathing.
And why are you so quiet now
standing there in the doorway?
You chose your journey long before
you came upon this highway.
Trav’ling lady stay awhile
until the night is over.
I’m just a station on your way,
I know I’m not your lover.

Suzanne takes you down
to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she’s half crazy
But that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you’ve always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body
with your mind.

And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said “All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them”
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.

Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbor
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you think that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.

Album

All Songs Written by Leonard Cohen

CD_homu
When I met Ali Lurie, she was only 16. She was booked into my studio to make an audition tape and I was drawn to the beauty and purity of her voice. I was working on the original version of “In the House of Mystery” at the time, and immediately invited her to come back and record some vocals on the project. We started doubling my lead vocal with her voice and I knew that was “the sound” I was looking for. The multiple vocal parts sounded like a single voice with a complex, yet pure texture. We continued and completed the CD with this style.

Upon conceiving the “Unplugged” version of “In the House of Mystery,” I knew I wanted it to be simple, uncluttered and much more personal than the original. I wanted the freedom to explore where the stories would take me. As I hear the lyrics in my mind, the music that develops in support of them is a result of how they make me feel in my heart. My performance of Cohen’s music seems to come so naturally to me that it is mysteriously effortless. The only other ingredient I needed on this project, besides myself, was the angelic voice of Ali. So the stage is set. Ten fingers and a single, blended voice. Two hearts feeling the spirit of some of the most brilliant songs of the 20th century … those of Mr. Leonard Cohen.

Single Tracks

Bird On A Wire
Famous Blue Raincoat
Sisters Of Mercy
Joan Of Arc
Master Song
Suzanne
Take This Longing
Seems So Long Ago Nancy
Story Of Isaac
Winter Lady
If It Be Your Will

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