New Song Lyrics: Born In Chains

Born In Chains is another of the three “new” songs performed by Leonard and the band during the Auckland shows. The lyrics have been the topic of quite a bit of speculation on the Leonard Cohen Forum, in part because it’s not too easy to make out some of the lines that are sung solo by the Webb sisters and by Sharon.

Here’s the current best guess that has been compiled by several forum members, updated slightly to represent what I thought I heard at the Auckland shows:

I was born … …

I was born in chains but I was taken out of Egypt
I was bound to this burden, but the burden it was raised
Oh Lord, I can no longer keep this secret
Blessed is the name,
The name be praised.

I fled to the edge of a mighty sea of sorrow
Pursued by the riders of a cruel and dark regime
But the waters parted and my soul crossed over
Out of Egypt,
Out of Pharaoh’s dream.

Word of words — the measure of all measures
Blessed is the name — the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know,
I cannot read the rest .

I was idle(?) with my soul, when I heard that you could use me
I followed very closely, but my life remained the same
But then you showed me where you had been wounded
In every atom,
Broken is the name.

I was alone on the road, your love was so confusing
And all the teachers told me that I had myself to blame
But in the arms of sense(?) illusion(?)
A sweet unknowing
Unified the name.

Word of words, and measure of all measures
Blessed is the name, the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know,
I cannot read the rest

I’ve heard the soul unfolds in the chambers of its longing
And the bitter liquor sweetens in the hammered cup
And all the ladders of the night have fallen
Just darkness now,
To lift the spirit up.

But all the ladders of the night have fallen
Just darkness now,
To lift the spirit up.

Word of words, and measure of all measures
Blessed is the name, the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know,
I cannot read the rest .

Cannot read the rest …
Shall not read the rest …

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