Moving to Hydra Island, said Cohen, was the best decision he ever made. He bought a house for $1500 a few days after his 26th birthday and said these words to his mother: “It has a huge terrace with a view of a dramatic mountain and shining white houses. The rooms are large and cool with deep windows set in thick walls. I suppose it’s about 200 years old and many generations of sea-.men must have lived here. I will do a little work on it every year and in a few years, it will be a mansion… I live on a hill and life has been going on here exactly the same for hundreds of years. All through the day, you hear the calls of the street vendors and they are really rather musical… I get up around 7 generally and work till about noon. Early morning is coolest and therefore best, but I love the heat anyhow, especially when the Aegean Sea is 10 minutes from my door.“
The place was his space of solitude, where he could think, make music, and not get overwhelmed by the rush of the metropolitan cities. Even today, there are no cars allowed on the island. It was here where he met Marianne…
His song, Bird on the Wire began in Greece when Cohen first arrived in Hydra, there were no wires on the island, no telephones, and no regular electricity. But soon telephone poles appeared, and then the wires.
“I would stare out the window at these telephone wires and think, how civilization had caught up with me and I wasn’t going to be able to escape after all.”
I wasn’t going to be able to live this eleventh-century life that I had thought I had found for myself.
So that was the beginning. Then he noticed that the birds came to the wires. The next line referred to the many evenings Cohen and friends climbed the endless stairs up from the port of Hydra, drunk and singing. Often you see: three guys with the arms around each other, stumbling up the stairs and singing these impeccable thirds. He finished the song in a Hollywood motel on Sunset Boulevard in 1969. Like a bird on the 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 for thee. If I, if I have been unkind, I hope that you can just let it go by. If I, if I have been untrue I hope you know it was never to you.
A gentleman, a master hero, so long Leonard Cohen… Thank you for all your words that lit our paths on rainy nights of December. Thank you for your life and for translating the otherness that we see yet fail to recognize and express, for teaching us to see the beauty in the cracks. We send you all our gratitude, may you rest in peace.