#655: 2013, Lana Del Rey, Chelsea Hotel No 2

by Jackie_South on March 29, 2013

Lana Del Rey released this cover of Leonard Cohen‘s Chelsea Hotel No 2 this week.  It is a great song and Del Rey’s voice suits it well.

The original of course is about Cohen’s brief affair with Janis Joplin, released four years after her death.  It mixes the profane (“Giving me head on the unmade bed”) with the touchingly profound (“Ah, but you got away, didn’t you baby/ You just turned your back on the crowd”).

There is a wry wit to the song:

You told me again you preferred handsome men
But for me you would make an exception

which Cohen then develops to

“And clenching your fist for the ones like us
Who are oppressed by the figures of beauty
You fixed yourself and said “Well, never mind
We are ugly but we have the music”

To Del Rey’s credit, she does not alter these lines, despite their lack of direct relevance to her.  And whilst she might be thought to be one of those oppressive figures of beauty herself, her hauntingly gentle-yet-husky voice matches the tone of the song brilliantly.

That is so of the final, faux-throw away, line which is perhaps the most memorable of the original:

That’s all, I don’t even think of you that often

Is this as cold as it appears?  Or a defensive fib to himself? Like the best of Cohen, it leaves you pondering.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth March 30, 2013 at 8:12 am

Yup, Cohen is the self-haters’ favourite, and Betty Grant – dried out at 14 and widely tattoo’d – according to you-know-who – is summa cum laude. Look at those weird lips.

Despite owning a CD with this song on it (Rufus Wainwright – Cohen’s granddaughter’s father) I’d completely missed the significance of “can’t keep track of each falling robin”. Spooky… or am I just jealous?


Mike Killingworth March 30, 2013 at 8:14 am

Yet again I am reminded that there is no way on this site to edit my own posts…


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