This song was originally by Leonard Cohen
on his album Songs of Love and Hate
. It has been covered multiple times. People who have covered it include Jonathan Coulton
, Tori Amos
, Joan Baez
, Jennifer Warnes
and many others. As is typical of Leonard Cohen's songs, the covers are often better sung and somehow more musical, but the original still has a sense of soul that is hard to capture.
The song is about a complex three-way relationship, but it never quite identifies the details. It takes the form of a very intimate letter which is signed by "L. Cohen," which may be the singer. The other participant in the relationship is "Jane" who is the subject of the song. The recipient of the letter is identified as "my brother, my killer," but also danced with a rose in his/her teeth, so the gender is unspecified.
The author of the letter writes about how he forgives the recipient, how Jane has had the troubles taken from her eyes, and the author thanks the recipient for that.
The music itself is very simple and a little haunting. The lyrics are even more touching by the fact that the end of the song, the letter is signed by "L. Cohen" which makes it all the more personal. In interviews, Cohen admits that it was based on an actual incident, but that he's forgotten the details and that it may not have even involved him.