CITY WITH A BROKEN HEART (©Words and music by Paul F. Cowlan)

I was playing in Berlin, a year or two before The Wall came down, and one early morning my dreams were fractured by fighting cats. Their squalling, half heard in the shallows of sleep, initially sounded like a woman calling out to me. I sat up, scribbled the first verse out, exactly as it stands, and went straight back to sleep. The rest of the lyrics drifted in throughout the following day, and were complete by that same evening.


Two alley cats are fighting in the courtyard,
it’s six-fifteen and I ought to be asleep.
But I thought I heard a woman’s voice calling out my name,
and they say that hearing voices is a sign that you’re insane.
Perhaps I’ll know for certain if I hear the voice again,
but meanwhile I’m awake and counting sheep.

And while I’m counting up the miles and the hours
Das Kapital is reckoning its gains;
and somewhere on the other side perhaps they’re counting too,
where the wire and bricks and barricades have cut the city’s heart right through.
And when you think about it, what else could they do,
watching their dream go down?

It’s a headstrong city, a lonely city,
broken up and torn apart.
Mad as the moon and sad as starlight.
City with a broken heart.


On one side of The Wall they’re going crazy,
on the other side they keep things buttoned down.
But Utopians don’t always get quite enough to eat,
and they sometimes beg for petrol from tourists in the street,
and they’re just a little cautious concerning whom they meet;
on the other side of town.

Does it always have to be eternal circles,
the hopes of something better turning sour?
But down the road it’s just the same,
no matter where you are,
in Einemstrasse tired girls will soon be waiting for a car
to pick them up out of the road,
though it never takes them far,
and they’re always back again in half an hour.

It’s a headstrong city, a lonely city,
broken up and torn apart.
Mad as the moon and sad as starlight.
City with a broken heart.