Skip to content

The hardest working line in Rock and Roll

August 18, 2021

Hmm, maybe not the hardest working line in rock and roll, maybe in baroque folk pop.

There’s a line in Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat that changes direction four times in the space of nine words. The line is:

Thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes.

The way Cohen sings it, it goes:

Thanks …

A simple start, Leonard is thanking someone. He’s always been well-mannered, so this is not unusual.

… for the trouble …

Ah, he was being sarcastic. It feels like the line will continue along the lines of ‘… you caused.’ But it doesn’t.

… you took …

Back to the gratitude.

… from her eyes.

But what he’s really talking about is the positive emotional impact the person had on Jane (the third person in the song). The trouble wasn’t a ruckus of any kind, but a deep-seated depression or sadness or anger that had clearly been building in Jane for a long time. In the context of the song, this is noble and kind, a cuckolded man swallowing his pride and admitting that the affair his partner had with his friend was better for her than anything he could have done for her.

Nine words. A story in itself. A beginning, middle, twist, and resolution in one sentence.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: