The Chelsea Hotel.

A lot has been written about the Chelsea Hotel. When I was in New York a little over a year ago I stopped by to see what I could see. To be honest I found the place really intimidating and not that enticing, if that makes sense. The too-schooled-for-school set, if you know what I mean.

With the GFC having kicked in a fortnight prior to my departure to New York, I couldn’t really justify sitting in uber-cool lobby bars, sipping dirty martinis—so I peered through the window for a bit then spent a couple of hours in a guitar store a few doors up instead.

Leonard Cohen, spent several years living in various rooms in the hotel throughout the late 60s, a mecca for the artistic elite in New York City at the time.

Author Authur Miller, who stayed six years at the Chelsea described the famous artist’s hotel like this:

This hotel does not belong to America. There are no vacuum cleaners, no rules and shame…it’s the high spot of the surreal. Cautiously, I lifted my feet to move across bloodstained winos passing out on the sidewalks–and I was happy. I witnessed how a new time, the sixties, stumbled into the Chelsea with young, bloodshot eyes.

Cohen’s song ‘Chelsea Hotel # 2’ is a real favourite of mine. Various artists have covered the track, including Regina Spektor, and more famously I suppose, Rufus Wainwright.

Have a gander:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGfgMYfdBFc

Cohen remarks in the liner notes ‘Some Notes On The Songs’ of his 1975 Greatest Hits compilation:

Nonetheless, the song Chelsea Hotel # 2 was not written at the Chelsea. I wrote this for an American singer who died a while ago. She used to stay at the Chelsea, too. I began it at a bar in a Polynesian restaurant in Miami in 1971 and finished it in Asmara, Ethiopia just before the throne was overturned. Ron Cornelius helped me with a chord change in an earlier version

A plaque was dedicated to Leonard Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel
On October 23, 2009, a year to the day that I flew out of NYC actually, in the afternoon out front of the Chelsea Hotel at 222 W. 23rd St. in Manhattan.

A group of Leonard Cohen Fans gathered to watch the unveiling of new plaque commemorating Leonard’s 75th birthday and his famous song about Janis Joplin and the Chelsea Hotel.

Over 300 members of the Leonard Cohen Forum contributed to funding the plaque and Dick Straub, who initiated the project attended, as well as Leonard’s ‘lively’ sister Esther.

Here be the song:

Chelsea Hotel # 2

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
you were talking so brave and so sweet,
giving me head on the unmade bed,
while the limousines wait in the street.

Those were the reasons and that was New York,
we were running for the money and the flesh.
And that was called love for the workers in song
probably still is for those of them left.

Ah but you got away, didn’t you babe,
you just turned your back on the crowd,
you got away, I never once heard you say,
I need you, I don’t need you,
I need you, I don’t need you
and all of that jiving around.

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
you were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you preferred handsome men
but for me you would make an exception.
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said, “Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music.”

Ah but you got away, didn’t you babe,
you just turned your back on the crowd,
you got away, I never once heard you say,
I need you, I don’t need you,
I need you, I don’t need you
and all of that jiving around.

I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best,
I can’t keep track of each fallen robin.
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
that’s all, I don’t even think of you that often.

© by Leonard Cohen.


And here be the chords, (I think?) Feel free to let me know if you disagree:

Chelsea Hotel # 2 - Leonard Cohen.


      F         C           Bflat     F 
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
          C                       Dm 
You were talking so brave and so sweet. 
F         C           Bflat 
Giving me head on the unmade bed 
F         Bflat                  C 
While the limousines wait in the street 
Dm                         Bflat 
Those were the reasons and that was New York,         
F               Am/E          Dm 
We were running for the money and the flesh     

Bflat                        F 
And that was called love for the workers in song,          
Bflat                      C 
Probably still is for those of them left.          

Bflat         F 
And then you got away, didn't you, baby?                      
Am/E        Dm 
You just turned your back on the crowd. 
Bflat                      F 
You got away, I never once heard you say,    
Bflat             F           Bflat              
"I need you, I don't need you, I need you, I  
F
don't need you,"     

Bflat               Dm       C 

And all of that jiving around.  

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel, 

You were famous, your heart was a legend. 

You told me again you preferred handsome men, But for me you would make an exception. 
And clenching your fist for the ones like us 
Who are oppressed by the figures of beauty, 
You fixed yourself, you said, 

"Well, never mind, We are ugly but we have the music."  

C       F          C           Bflat         F 
I don't mean to suggest that I loved you the best         
F             C           Dm 
I can't keep track of each fallen robin.     F          

C           Bflat     F 
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,      

Bflat                          C 
That’s all, I don't think of you that often. 


					
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