Song Stories

“It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”

Bob Dylan | 1965

"It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" was the kind of piano-based blues you might have heard at a Western saloon, Bob Dylan affably observing the world from a mail train, apparently trailed by a girl. Originally titled "Phantom Engineer," it was recorded in both fast and slow versions, Dylan opting to go for the latter. One of the pianos on the released take was played by Al Kooper, who stated in Don't Think Twice, It's All Right: Bob Dylan: The Early Years, "It's a wonderful mood – you can slice the mood on that song."

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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