Famous Blue Raincoat - What is it about

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
Chashire
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Famous Blue Raincoat - What is it about

Post by Chashire » Wed Jun 09, 2004 4:18 pm

Hi all

Can someone tell me the story of "Famous Blue Raincoat"??
Who is it about?? What is it about??

:?

Thanx alot
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Rob
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Post by Rob » Wed Jun 09, 2004 5:34 pm

Hi Chashire and welcome,

I'm afraid that you will not get the definitive answer to your question! If you go to page four of "Leonard Cohen Music" there are many and varried interpretations of this song. Take your pick!
Rob
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Rob
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Famous blue raincoat

Post by Rob » Thu Jun 10, 2004 2:54 pm

Hi Chashire,

Here are a couple of the things Leonard has said about the song.

Stockholm 03/04/72.

"It's a common place to say it but it's a song that was written for two people, for a woman and a man and especially for a woman whomI had to share with another man. But you know it's true when they say that there won't be free men until there are free women."

22 years later, when time had left it's mark.....

BBC Radio 1 1994

"The trouble with that song is that I've forgotten the actual triangle. Whether it was my own..of course. I always felt that there was an invisible male seducing the woman I was with, now whether this one was incarnate or merely imaginary I don't remember, I've always had the sense that either I've been that figure in relation to another couple or there'd been a figure like that in relation to my marriage. I don't quite remember but I did have this feeling that there was always a third party, sometimes me, sometimes another man, sometimes another woman. It was a song I've never been satisfied with. It's not that I've resisted an impressionistic approach to songwriting, but I've never felt that this one, that I really nailed the lyric. I'm ready to concide something to the mystery, but secretly I've always felt that there was something about the song that was unclear."

Well, I hope thats cleared it up for you! I think that the ambiguity makes it a great song. Just fill in the gaps in the story however you like.
Rob
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tomsakic
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Post by tomsakic » Fri Jun 11, 2004 6:08 pm

This topic was widely discussed one year ago, so I guess you can find it here on forum if you write the name of song in search option.
Also, there's good symposium on song in Intricate Preparations: Writing Leonard Cohen, excellent book of scholars' essays on LC's work, edited by Stephen Scobie (it's very cheap on amazon).
tom.
glyn
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Post by glyn » Sun Jun 13, 2004 12:49 am

The last time we discussed this, which Tom refers to, I said I thought it was the song version of Beautiful Losers. So, if you read that you'll know what the song is about.
glyn
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tomsakic
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Post by tomsakic » Sun Jun 13, 2004 7:53 pm

Yes, it's about love triangle, and shortest description would be: subject of song (the poet) is writing a letter to his past self.
t.
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peter danielsen
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Post by peter danielsen » Mon Jun 14, 2004 1:46 pm

hi glyn

that offcourse depends on the ability to understand what "beautiful loosers" is all about

Peter
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goblinski
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Post by goblinski » Mon Jun 14, 2004 3:09 pm

I don't see it as writing to a past self - if you take it for what it is, it's a brave, cuckolded letter from the author to a man who's stolen his lover - and made a better fist of keeping her happy than he ever could. It's that mix of jealousy, regret, bitterness and defiance - complex emotions. I think it reduces it to put too a narrow an interpretation on it, but if you listen to it without bringing anything else, that's the drama of the song. It doesn't really matter whether it actually happened in real life or not...
All I ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you.

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Broken Hill
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"Famous Blue Raincoat"

Post by Broken Hill » Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:42 pm

I think is about Nico from Velvet Underground
John Etherington
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Famous Blue Raincoat

Post by John Etherington » Mon Sep 20, 2004 5:57 pm

I've always identified this song with the triangle in "Beautiful Losers" -
the narrator (who we assume to be Leonard) his wife and "F" , his friend/enemy who had the affair with his wife. The main complication of course is that Leonard says "YOUR famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder" (when we know that Leonard was the one who wore
the Burberry) . However, maybe the raincoat is being used as a symbol
of the other man taking on Leonard's identity. The reference to going clear presumably has connections to Leonard's then interest in scientology, where the goal is to "go clear" in terms of consciousness.

John Etherington
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lizzytysh
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Post by lizzytysh » Mon Sep 20, 2004 6:05 pm

"However, maybe the raincoat is being used as a symbol
of the other man taking on Leonard's identity."
I really like that particular aspect of interpretation. To add to it, it would seem that the raincoat being torn at the shoulder might suggest that the "F" person took a nice garment [so to speak] ~ symbolically, the relationship, the 'garment' to shield one from the 'rains' of life ~ and defiled its sanctity, its integrity [uninterrupted wholeness], even though the outcome had its plusses. Yeeeaaaahhhhh, I know its a stretch, but I really like the idea of taking on Leonard's identity, and how the symbolism could become inverse with that.
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Rob
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Post by Rob » Mon Oct 04, 2004 11:41 am

Lyra,
Take a look at these contributions and get really confused.

Rob.
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Paula
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Post by Paula » Wed Mar 15, 2006 4:40 pm

I found this old thread on Famous Blue Raincoat for your perusal!
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lizzytysh
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Post by lizzytysh » Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:02 pm

Thanks very much, Paula :) .

Love,
Lizzie
Cohen Kid
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Post by Cohen Kid » Fri Mar 17, 2006 11:31 pm

I always thought for myself that the song was about a lost love, who's been going downwards in life afterwards...
and he's curious to how she's doing, and if she stopped taking drugs

But the idea of making a song, adressed you yourself in the past is a very interesting idea...
perhaps i'll make one like that :)

fact is, that for me, this is in my top3 of leonard songs, along with Long ago Nancy, which is the best!
A sip of wine, a cigarette
And then it's time to go
I tidied up the kitchenette
I tuned the old banjo
-10 new songs, Boogie Street
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