"...And a young man, leaning on his darkened door
He cried out to me, 'Baby, why not ask for more?'"
The Song: "Bird on a Wire," Jennifer Warnes. Words and music by Leonard Cohen. Track 2 of Famous Blue Raincoat, 1987.
How/when acquired: Purchased cassette, 1987.
Happy birthday, Leonard Cohen. He's 76 years old today, and still touring; he's on a short list of artists I've never seen live and would really, really like to.
At the risk of heresy, however, I'll say that Leonard Cohen is a better songwriter than singer, and is not always the best interpreter of his own songs. I own five different versions of this song, and this is my favorite.
I bought this cassette in the spring of 1987, at Olsson's Books & Music in Georgetown. It was an unjustifiable extravagance. I was working two jobs that paid just over minimum wage, and picking up as much extra babysitting as I could. I was living alone in a basement apartment, my student loans had come due, and I've always been terrible with money anyway. I never had any cash in my pocket, and am pretty sure I bought this cassette on impulse, just because I had a ten-dollar bill.
The cassette's still in my car. Remarkably, it still plays. I probably listened to it every day for the first four months I owned it, and it's been in heavy rotation, in one format or another, ever since.
Recently I saw a comment on a friend's Facebook page about how $250,000/year shouldn't be considered wealthy, especially for people with mortgages to pay and children to send to college. The median household income in the United States was $52,059 in 2008; in Maine, it was $46,419. I don't make that much, but I'm just one person, and I don't need to (see previous comment about being bad with money).
It would baffle me, if Leonard Cohen hadn't explained it all so elegantly. As birds on the wire, we shouldn't ask for so much — but why not ask for more?