"Chelsea Hotel" is an intimate eulogy. Cohen bids farewell to "fallen robin" Janis Joplin. The tone is somewhat ironic (in the way of "I Get Along Without You Very Well" and the lyrics suggest a shared vulnerability. It's a haunting melody, and the language is explicit: ".
The song is not maudlin or sentimental. There is no reference to Joplin's death (heroin overdose) per se, rather, the lyric imbues a measure of strength…
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
You were talkin' so brave and so sweet
Givin' me head on the unmade bed
While the limousines wait in the street