Bird on the Wire chords by Leonard Cohen


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Bird on the Wire | Chords + Lyrics


Verse 1

|6/8 A | E E/B |
Like a bird on the wire.
| A | D |
Like a drunk in a midnight choir.
| A | E E/B | A Asus4 | A Aadd9 |
I have tried, in my way to be free.

Verse 2

| A | E E/B |
Like a worm on a hook.
| A | D |
Like a knight from some old-fashioned book.
| A | E E/B | A Asus4 | Aadd9 A |
I have saved all my ribbons for thee.

Chorus 1

| D | D | A | A Aadd9 |
If I, if I have been unkind.
| Bm | Bm | A | A |
I hope that you, can just let it go by.
| D | D | A | A Aadd9 |
If I, if I have been untrue.
| Bm | Bm | E Esus4 | E |
I hope you know it was never to you.

Verse 3

| A | E E/B |
Oh, like a baby, stillborn.
| A | D |
Like a beast with his horn.
| A | E E/B | A Asus4 | A Aadd9 |
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.

Verse 4

| A | E E/B |
But I swear by this song.
| A | D |
And by all that I have done wrong.
| A | E E/B | A Asus4 | Aadd9 A |
I will make it all up to thee.

Chorus 2

| D | D | A | A |
I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch.
| Bm | Bm | A | A |
He said to me, “You must not ask for so much”.
| D | D | A | A |
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door.
| Bm | Bm | E Esus4 | E |
She cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”

Verse 5

| A | E E/B |
Oh, like a bird on the wire.
| A | D |
Like a drunk in a midnight choir.
| A | E | D | A |
I have tried in my way to be free.



Bird on the Wire Chords: Learn the progressions


Bird on the Wire guitar lesson with TAB T

The chords for Bird on the Wire are simple. Played in the time signature of 6/8 and in the key of A, the verse is this:

| A (I) | E (V) E/B | A | D (IV) |
| A | E E/B | A Asus4 | Aadd9 A |

The chorus is twice as long as we play the same chord for two bars moving IV – I – II – I. Upon repeating this chord progression, we end on V instead of I, like this:

| D (IV) | D | A (I) | A |
| Bm (II) | Bm | A (I) | A |
| D | D | A | A |
| Bm | Bm | E (V) Esus4 | E |

The chords may be simple but the picking pattern is more intricate and unusual than one may first suspect. Here’s one way you could play the verse.

Bird on the Wire chords and TAB verse 1

Members get the TAB for another way to play the verse, as well as the chorus, all designed to work on just one acoustic guitar.

Here’s a link to the complete lesson: Bird on the Wire – Guitar Lesson with TAB.



Bird on the Wire – A Cowboy Song, Anthem, or a Bohemian My Way?

First released by Judy Collins in a country style in 1968, Bird on the Wire was soon recorded by Leonard Cohen himself in 1969 for the album Songs from a Room using a more folk approach.

Since then, it’s been covered by Johnny Cash, Jennifer Warnes, KD Lang, Joe Cocker, Tim Hardin, and many more.

Described by Mr Cohen as a Cowboy Song, an Anthem, and even a Bohemian My Way, Bird on the Wire was the song that got him out of depression and into writing again.

As Leonard was spending his time on the Island of Hydra (Greece) with his Norwegian friend Marianne, he slipped into depression. It was Marianne who encouraged him to start writing again.

As Leonard was sitting in his room and saw a bird sitting on the newly installed telephone wires, the song came to him.

If you’re thinking, was that Marianne the same woman he had written So Long, Marianne for a few years earlier, then yes, it was. He later referred to her as his muse.



Bird on the Wire Chords | Related Pages


Beginner Acoustic

There are many more Beginner Acoustic Songs with chords similar to Bird on the Wire.

This collection of beginner acoustic tunes will teach you how to arrange for one acoustic guitar, as well as how to create a supporting part.

Playing songs will help you with switching between open-position chords and give you the context you need to understand how music works theoretically.


Five similar tunes with chords and lyrics

When you can play Bird on the Wire's chords, try these five tunes from the songbook.


Leonard Cohen tunes

Leonard Cohen wrote Bird on the Wire.

Following a career as a novelist and poet for over a decade, Leonard Cohen released his debut album in 1967.

His best tunes include Suzanne, Bird on the Wire, Famous Blue Raincoat, Chelsea Hotel #2, Hallelujah, Dance Me To The End Of Love, and So Long, Marianne.


Leonard Cohen on the web

Listen to Leonard Cohen on Spotify.


Country & Folk

When you can play Bird on the Wire, check out these Country and Folk tunes as well.

In the primarily acoustic genres of Country & Folk, you must acquire what matters the most: A repertoire. Nothing else will give you the gig.

Learn tunes by Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, America, Don McLean, and many more.


About me | Dan Lundholm

Dan Lundholm wrote this guitar lesson about Bird on the Wire's chords.

This was a guitar lesson about Bird on the Wire chords, by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and learn guitar with Spytunes.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.



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