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 and progressions (lesson preview)

Bird on the Wire Analysis + 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 just I – V – I – IV, and then I – V – I, like this:

| A | E E/B | A | D |
| 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 | D | A | A |
| Bm | Bm | A | A |
| D | D | A | A |
| Bm | Bm | E Esus4 | E |

The chords may be simple although the picking pattern is more intricate and unusual than one may first suspect.

Members get the TAB for how to play Bird on the Wire on just one acoustic guitar. Here’s a link to the complete lesson: Bird on the Wire, guitar lesson with TAB.

Become a member today and get unlimited access to all step-by-step guitar coursesTAB for the songbook, the Self-Eliminating Practice Routine, and the eBook Spytunes Method.

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 actually 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 he 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.

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