An Old Schedule of Trains

Leonard Cohen wrote and recorded ‘The Stranger Song’ in 1967.  Cohen started out as a writer and poet, which was common for singers at that time.  This is a sad song and it may be about a significant other, who someone they fell in love with, but now they don’t know who this person is, over time they have become a stranger.  Oddly, this person repeats this same experience with one man after another throughout the song while riding on a train.  It tells the story of hope in vain, of potential change but no change happens, just broken trust, and broken hearts.

It’s true that all the men you knew were dealers
Who said they were through with dealing
Every time you gave them shelter I know that kind of man
It’s hard to hold the hand of anyone
Who is reaching for the sky just to surrender
Who is reaching for the sky just to surrender
And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind
You find he did not leave you very much not even laughter
Like any dealer he was watching for the card
That is so high and wild
He’ll never need to deal another
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
And then leaning on your window sill
He’ll say one day you caused his will
To weaken with your love and warmth and shelter
And then taking from his wallet
An old schedule of trains, he’ll say “I told you when I came I was a stranger
I told you when I came I was a stranger”
But now another stranger seems
To want you to ignore his dreams
As though they were the burden of some other
O you’ve seen that man before
His golden arm dispatching cards
But now it’s rusted from the elbow to the finger
And he wants to trade the game he plays for shelter
Yes he wants to trade the game he knows for shelter
Ah you hate to watch another tired man
Lay down his hand
Like he was giving up the holy game of poker
And while he talks his dreams to sleep
You notice there’s a highway
That is curling up like smoke above his shoulder
It’s curling just like smoke above his shoulder
You tell him to come in sit down
But something makes you turn around
The door is open, you can’t close your shelter
You try the handle of the road
It opens do not be afraid
It’s you my love, you who are the stranger
It is you my love, you who are the stranger
“Well, I’ve been waitin’, I was sure
We’d meet between the trains we’re waitin’ for
I think it’s time to board another
Please understand, I never had a secret chart
To get me to the heart of this
Or any other matter”
When he talks like this you don’t know what he’s after
When he speaks like this you don’t know what he’s after
“Let’s meet tomorrow if you choose
Upon the shore, beneath the bridge
That they are building on some endless river”
Then he leaves the platform
For the sleeping car that’s warm
You realize, he’s only advertising one more shelter
And it comes to you, he never was a stranger
And you say, “Ok, the bridge or someplace later”
And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind
You find he did not leave you very much not even laughter
Like any dealer he was watching for the card
That is so high and wild
He’ll never need to deal another
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
And then leaning on your window sill
He’ll say one day you caused his will
To weaken with your love and warmth and shelter
And then taking from his wallet
An old schedule of trains, he’ll say “I told you when I came I was a stranger
I told you when I came I was a stranger
I told you when I came I was a stranger
I told you when I came I was a stranger”

Written for Angie’s Writing Wednesday prompt of – schedule.

7 thoughts on “An Old Schedule of Trains

  1. You say that this is a sad song, like this is something unusual for the man. Leonard Cohen is not exactly known for happy songs! Mind you, he was very talented man and I do like his music! Thank you for joining in 🙂

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