I have a live
recording of this wonderful song, and Cohen
offers a relatively detailed account of the events in the Chelsea Hotel
which would later inspire
the lyrics. His unmistakable deep
voice, haulting at various points, recounts:
"A long time ago I met a beautiful young woman on an elevator in New York City. I used to bump into her at about three in the morning every night. After a while I gathered my courage, and I said to her, 'Are you looking for something?'
She said, 'Yes. I'm looking for something.'
"I could tell by the tone of her voice that she wasn't trying to realize some unfulfilled potential of her inner nature- that she was actually looking for something. I said 'Who or what are you looking for?'
"She said 'Kris Kristofferson.'
"I said 'I am Kris Kristofferson.'
"And I deceived her for many nights. And a long time after that, I found myself in a bar in a Polynesian restaurant in Miami beach, leaning over a napkin and one of those drinks they serve in a porcelain coconut shell, and I was writing a song to this very lady. I was the very image of myself, 40 years old. Thin. Neglected. With a great song on my mind. It took me a while to finish it. It's for Janis Joplin, at the Chelsea Hotel."